Regarding the "2nd Amendment protects us from tyranny" argument: Let's think about the so-called Patriot Act. That law isn't some right-wing paranoid fantasy about "Obama will take our guns!" or black helicopters or blue-helmeted UN troops putting us in concentration camps. That law is a REAL infringement on our liberties. Under the still-in-effect Patriot Act, the fed. govt. can, at any time and without having to provide any reason, cry "National Security!" and arrest us without warrant or charges, imprison us indefinitely, hold us incommunicado, deny us legal representation, search our homes, persons, cars, papers, email, phone records, snail mail, etc. in secret and without a warrant, take away our right to Habeas Corpus (the right to go before a judge to contest our imprisonment), send us to foreign nations for "interrogation" by the authorities of said foreign nation (read "torture"), and a host of other liberty-destroying provisions too numerous to list here.
Where was the NRA while the Patriot Act was being passed? Where are they now while it's still in effect?
Most importantly, why didn't our right to bear arms protect us from this drastic, powerful, and seemingly permanent destruction of many of our Constitutional liberties??
Look, if gun owners really and truly want to protect our liberties, they should put down their guns and get politically active. Guns did not protect us and would not have protected us from the Patriot Act. Only active engagement in our political system would have or could still save us from the Patriot Act and/or other infringements of our liberties.
P.S. Forgot to add, I'm a gun owner. But I try (in my very small and limited way) to protect liberty not by carrying my gun everywhere but by being actively engaged in the political process.
We'd add only one other thought for now: Where does the 2nd Amendment, or any other, afford anybody the "civil liberty" of buying and purchasing as many semi-assault rifles, boxes of ammo and high-capacity magazines as they want without restriction or regulation? We can't seem to find that in our copy of the U.S. Constitution and, though we've asked, no one has yet identified for us where that "liberty" is enumerated.
That said, Heller's point above is probably far more important.
As we noted yesterday, the press conference held by the NRA's Con-Man-In-Chief did not go well. But, of course, as we've been told by many an NRA-stooge commenter long taken in by the NRA racket, we're just "anti-gun nuts", right?
While it's not entirely surprising to see the New York Times editorial board deride LaPierre's proposal yesterday, writing unambiguously that they "we were stunned by Mr. LaPierre’s mendacious, delusional, almost deranged rant," how about those "anti-gun nuts" over at Rupert Murdoch'sNew York Post today?...
And, just for good measure, here's the review from the not-nearly-as-Rightwing New York Daily News...
So, uh, apparently it's not just us. (For a pleasant change.)
And, by the way, while we have been describing the NRA as a "racket" for some time, even George W. Bush's former White House ethics attorney (yes, they had one!) is calling them the very same thing now, and in the New York Times!
NYU media critic and professor Jay Rosen cut to the chase in his tweet: "Exact quote just now from the NRA press conference. 'This is the beginning of a serious conversation. We won't be taking any questions.'"
The only thing that might have made the NRA's post-Newtown "major press conference" this morning --- during which they had promised earlier this week to unveil their "meaningful contributions to help make sure" a mass shooting like the one at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, one week ago today, "never happens again" --- would have been if someone had actually opened fire there.
"To be fair to the NRA," observed Media Matters' Jamison Foser, "YOU try to hold a press conference that doesn’t coincide with a gun killing in America. It ain’t easy."
All the while, LaPierre was instructing the gathered media today that the problems we are facing, the epidemic of mass shootings and gun violence, is due to video games, the news media, lack of armed security guards at elementary schools, mental illness, and even Barack Obama. It has, apparently, nothing whatsoever to do with guns in any way, shape or form, if LaPierre's 24 minutes of prepared remarks (full video below) are any indication.
"THIS is the mighty NRA? The group that supposedly rules all of Washington, DC? THESE nut jobs??" quipped Media Matters' Eric Boehlert, adding a few minutes later: "If nut job LaPierre held a 'press conference' every Fri, sweeping gun control would be passed by February"...
[Update: During a disastrous post-Newtown press conference this morning in D.C., exactly one week after the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, the NRA's CEO and Executive Vice President (and chief liar) Wayne LaPierre said: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." More on that presser now here, but the following article, published prior to the NRA debacle today, goes a long way towards pre-bunking LaPierre's main contention.]
There have been a lot of absurd claims by the folks scammed by the NRA racket into believing that nothing can be done to decrease gun violence following last week's horrific mass shooting in Newtown, CT.
(Our personal favorite was the one that failed the quickest: The claim that the stabbing of 20 school children in China on the very same day as the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre proves that putting responsible limitations on gun and high-capacity magazine ownership won't help stop these types of tragedies. The reason that response failed so quickly? The wingnuts using it apparently failed to read the actual China story to learn that none of the children there were actually killed in that attack.)
The excuse for taking no action in the wake of Newtown which has had the longest shelf life to date, seems to be the notion that if only someone in the school --- or in the movie theater, or in the shopping mall, or in the Sikh temple, etc. --- had been armed, the tragedy would have been averted.
If more law abiding responsible people had concealed carry permits and were able and willing to use their firearms when necessary, how many of you anti-gun nuts really believe he would have gotten off more than one or two shots in a school?
Setting aside his obvious strawman --- folks like us are no more "anti-gun nuts" than the vast majority of NRA members (if not their con-man leadership) who agree we should have increased gun safety regulations --- JPack80's thin argument, and the millions of other wingnuts making the same weak case, is quickly debunked by a few fairly easy to understand points. (There are many more, but we'll stick to two for the moment, since some folks making this case may have trouble counting higher than that.)
First, how many shots did the Fort Hood shooter get off when he opened fire --- killing 13 and wounding 29 others --- in the middle of a U.S. Army base, filled with people carrying loaded weapons and many more with easy access to them? (Answer: About 200 rounds, which also included shoot-outs with two armed officers, the first of which was hit three times before she went down. But, see update below for additional thoughts on this.)
It is also true that both Columbine and Virginia Tech had armed security officers on campus, as little good as that did anybody, during the mass shootings there. Let's also not forget the trained New York City police who attempted to stop a gunman at the Empire State Building over the summer. They ended up shooting nine (9) innocent bystanders in the bargain.
But the more damning response to the foolish point that "more people with guns are the best way to stop mass shootings" is found in this 2009 ABC video showing how people with guns, and training, actually react when confronted by something like a sudden, surprise shooting. Watch the results of the experiment --- using some folks with relatively little gun training as well as some who are trained marksmen --- to see how well that whole "if only someone was armed during these shootings they could have stopped the shooter!" argument holds up...
So, what's your next, dumb, non-solution for these problems, wingnuts?
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UPDATE: Several commenters written to take issue with our description of the Fort Hood shootings having taken place "in the middle of a U.S. Army base, filled with people carrying loaded weapons and many more with easy access to them"...
On today's The BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio here in Los Angeles, we dealt with, what, if anything, will now be done in the wake of the latest mass shootings in Newtown, CT, and if the lies and propaganda and bullying of the NRA will finally be overcome --- or not.
Desi Doyen joins us for a brief history of how the NRA changed in 1977 from a 100-year old gun safety organization, to a Republican political operation, as well as for the latest Green News Report.
Plus, we got to a lot of phone callers with opinions on all of this, including an NRA member who says he'll be quitting the group; an NRA instructor who says we're absolutely right about what the NRA has become; a caller disagrees that any more gun laws are needed, because it would "allow the wolf in the door", or some such; and even a surprise call from our pal, the great progressive trouble-maker Cliff Schecter. Enjoy!
The statement notes the group will hold a news conference this Friday, December 21 --- the Friday before Christmas --- which Washington Post's Greg Sargent aptly describes as "the ultimate Friday news dump."
Here's their complete statement today...
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UPDATE 12/21/12: The NRA held it's "major news conference" today, announcing their "major contributions". It didn't go well...
"If we're going to get past this almost hysterical fear of trying to do anything at all on gun rights," MSNBC's Rachel Maddow asked on Friday during her breaking coverage of the mass shootings at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT, "if we're going to try to puncture the myth that anything to reform or rationalize gun laws is absolutely, politically impossible as a categorical thing, what would happen if we just started at the edges?"
"What would happen if we just started with what even members of the NRA say they want from national gun laws? Because they want a hell of a lot more than we've got right now," she correctly noted. "The organization that they're a member of may not admit that, but when you poll their members, even they want improvements."
She is absolutely right. And so is the rank and file membership of the National Rifle Association when it comes to many of the most pressing gun safety issues. The numbers (read on) are unequivocal. They want what their leadership does not, and by huge margins. The con-men and scam-artists who run the terrorist-enabling NRA racket, on the other hand, as usual, are absolutely bloody wrong.
If we could reform gun safety laws just enough in this country to meet the wishes of the vast majority of the NRA membership, we would be leaps and bounds beyond the deadly political quagmire we have been languishing in as a nation --- thanks to the insidious liars and profiteers of the NRA leadership and the cowardly politicians afraid to take them on --- for at least a decade in this country.
The NRA's loudest and most dishonest voice is its Executive VP and chief political strategist Wayne LaPierre. He is opposed to any and all legislation that might stand a chance of making Americans safer, claiming a twisted and tortured view of the Bill of Right's 2nd Amendment as a prohibition against any and all such legislation...
The conservative Republican and former U.S. Congressman from Florida turned MSNBC morning show anchor Joe Scarborough offered a powerful response this morning to the tragic mass shooting which killed 20 children and 7 adults in Newtown, CT last Friday.
The often glib Scarborough who says he "received the NRA's highest ratings over four terms in Congress," took a very serious and non-ideological turn at the top of today's Morning Joe program on MSNBC. During his prepared remarks he cited the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school as a "true landmark" which, he said, forced him to spend "the past few days grasping for solutions and struggling for answers, while daring to question my long held beliefs on these subjects."
"Every American must know," he said, "from this day forward, that nothing can ever be the same again."
With an eye towards what he described as "entrenched special interests [who] will try to muddy the issues," he implored that "Politicians can no longer be allowed to defend the status quo. They must instead be forced to protect our children."
"The violence we see spreading from shopping malls in Oregon, to movie theaters in Colorado, to college campuses in Virginia, to elementary schools in Connecticut, is being spawned by the toxic brew of a violent pop culture, a growing mental health crisis and the proliferation of combat-styled guns."
"The cause of these sickening mass shootings," he explained, "is no longer a mystery to common-sense Americans."
Speaking from his former perspective as a powerful Washington D.C. insider during his days in the U.S. House, Scarborough went on to say: "I am a conservative Republican who received the NRA's highest ratings over 4 terms in Congress. I saw the debate over guns as a powerful, symbolic struggle between individual rights and government control. In the years after Waco and Ruby Ridge, the symbolism of that debate seemed even more powerful to my colleagues and me."
"But the symbols of that ideological struggle have since been shattered by the harvest sown from violent, mind-numbing video games and gruesome Hollywood movies that dangerously desensitizes those who struggle with mental health challenges. Add military-styled weapons and high capacity magazines to that equation and tragedy can never be too far behind."
"Friday changed everything," he continued. "It must change everything. We all must begin anew and demand that Washington's old way of doing business is no longer acceptable. ... Our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-styled high-caliber semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want."
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The complete video of Scarborough's 12/17/2012 remarks on MSNBC's Morning Joe is at the top of this article, the full text transcript follows below...
"Imagine if somebody suggested we shouldn't discuss terrorism after 9/11 or fire safety after Triangle Shirtwaist or lifeboats after Titanic," George W. Bush's not-insane former speechwriter, David Frum tweeted on Saturday, before adding satirically: "1502 people have DROWNED! This is no time to insult their memory by asking why there weren't enough lifeboats to save them."
Not to pile on... but it's time to pile on. In just one recent 24-hour period in America:
And that's just a few of them. Moreover, as Brad Friedman highlighted in memoriam, from Eric Boehlert's tweet Sunday morning: "And yes, in the 48 hrs since the Newtown shooting, more than 160 Americans have died from gun fire; 300+ have been injured."
Those same apologists tell us that any discussion of policy changes that might prevent innocent children and unarmed civilians from being slaughtered must be postponed to some later date that never actually arrives.
Other wealthy nations have developed different gun policies that have drastically reduced gun violence in their countries while still allowing law-abiding private citizens to own firearms. For example, Australia passed strict gun control and access laws in 1996, after 13 mass shootings in 18 years. How many mass shootings have there been in Australia since the new laws passed? Zero. Could we gain insight from gun policies instituted by other governments? Perhaps --- but here in America, land of free speech and home of the brave, we are told we can't discuss it now...
"Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind."
- Bob Dylan, Blowin' in the Wind
In "High Cost of Willfully Misinterpreting the 2nd Amendment" we touched upon the price the American people have paid in lives, injuries and grief, as measured against the extraordinary profits of U.S. small arms manufacturers whose domestic sales of increasingly sophisticated weapons, including the AR-15 and AK-47 styled assault rifles, similar to the one used in the mass shooting in Newton, CT last Friday, climbed to 14 million guns in 2009 alone --- greater than the total number possessed by 21 of the world's standing armies combined.
As the nation reels in the wake of the latest horror at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, it seems a worthwhile task to take a quick look at a partial history of mass shooting events in the U.S., starting with the 1966 University of Texas massacre so that we can take stock of what our nation's strange fascination with guns and ammo has truly wrought --- with increasing frequency since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004...
Merry Christmas from the White House and the NRA...
UPDATES: Bushmaster semi-automatic assault rifle and others weapons used in mass murder legally purchased and registered; Newtown, CT elementary school shooting 2nd deadliest in U.S. history, most came since NRA helped loosen laws; Tearful President speaks in Brady Press Room, calls for 'meaningful action regardless of politics', fails to offer specifics...
UPDATE 12:14pm PT: According to AP, at this hour, there are 27 dead at the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, including 18 children, most of them kindergarteners, making this the second deadliest shooting in U.S. history. Which means, according to BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski, that "of the 12 deadliest shooting attacks in US history, six have occurred since 2007."
In other words, the six of the most deadly shootings in our history all happened in the years since the NRA was so successful in assuring the Reagan-era assault-weapons ban was ended and other gun laws were loosened and struck down entirely across the country.
As of this week, all 50 states now allow concealed guns to be carried. But, according to the terrorist-enabling NRA and its cowardly supporters, the solution is for still more people to carry guns (the Republican MI legislature approved a new law allowing guns in schools just last night) so we all keep getting safer and safer. Right?
The NRA plan to make America safer: Everyone get a gun. Wait for someone in bullet-proof armor to use a semi-automatic assualt rifle to shoot 60 people in a crowd in 90 seconds or so. Someone try to shoot them. That plan is perfect! No downsides at all.
UPDATE 12:21pm PT: President Obama just spoke in the Brady Press Room, named for Ronald Reagan's Press Secretary James Brady, who was shot in the head during the assassination attempt on Reagan, and the man for whom the now expired assault weapons ban, supported by Reagan and signed by George H.W. Bush, was named.
In terse remarks, while fighting back tears, the President said: "We've endured too many of these tragedies these past few years...We are going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
He offered no suggestions, at this time, for that "meaningful action".
UPDATE 1:20pm PT: Number of children said killed, among the 27 shot by suspect, increased to 20.
Also, Democratic strategist Julian Epstein on MSNBC says 30 people are killed by guns every day in the U.S. 11,000 per year. "The equivalent of a jumbo jet going down every week in this country."
UPDATE 3:27pm PT:According to NBC News: "Weapons used in shooting were legally purchased and registered to gunman's mother, law enforcement officials tell NBC News ". Thanks for the great work, NRA con-men!
UPDATE 3:40pm PT: Fox "News" confirms weapons used were legally purchased and registered by shooter's mother (who was also killed). They (and CNN) report one weapon was a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle made by Bushmaster. Here's the Bushmaster 2012 catalog. Note the bottom of their website includes two different links to the NRA.
Here's a video of a .223 Bushmaster AR-15, similar to the one reportedly used in the killing of 27 in CT today, firing at 100 yards...
UPDATE 9:51pm PT: There seems to be quiet a bit of confusion, and conflicting information, about the type of weapons used in the mass shooting today. So let's try to clear that up a bit, with what we're able to learn at this hour...
Now Jon Stewart and The Daily Show have something to say about it all, whether Fox "News" likes it or not. (Note: The video is broken into two parts for some reason, so be sure to watch through to Part 2!)
In the third of our three-part series on the U.S. Government's failed 'War on Drugs,' earlier this year, we noted that drug prohibition was vital to the very existence of the deadly Mexican drug cartels. As we noted, the carnage, which included 13,000 deaths inside Mexico in "the first three quarters of 2011 --- a number that does not include the more than 5,000 people who have disappeared" --- is now spilling over the border into the U.S.
Over the past five years, some 60,000 have died in the Mexican drug war, and "the U.S. has played a big part in it," according to a new video from the Brave New Foundation on behalf of GunWar.org. The free flow of increasingly sophisticated weaponry from the U.S. to Mexico --- extremely profitable for the U.S. small arms industry and deadly for innocent civilians --- is part of the very "scourge" which the U.N. was seeking to address in its Arms Trade Treaty negotiations before the Obama Administration caved in the face of the National Rifle Association's campaign of blatant lies about the accord.
All of the Mexican carnage, as the video explains, is due, in no small part, to the tremendously lax oversight of the sale of such weapons here in the U.S., thanks to the political strong-arming by groups such as the NRA who oppose virtually any and all oversight or regulation of any type.
"Around 70% of all firearms seized in Mexico and submitted for tracing, come from the United States," Brave New World explains. "Most gun sellers don't care. The more they sell, the more they profit."
The additionally tragic irony underscoring these facts: All of this has played out even as Republicans have spent the last year or so pretending to be concerned about their so-called "Fast and Furious scandal", the poorly-considered ATF "gun walking" program begun by the Bush Administration and continued by members of the ATF based in Arizona during the Obama Administration. A federal program designed (poorly or otherwise) to try and catch gun-runners and drug lords: Bad --- at least when it's carried out by a Democratic administration. Little to no restriction on the "legal" purchase of military-grade assault weapons in the U.S., resulting in tens of thousands of them pouring over the border for decades: That's just one of the many benefit that members receive in exchange for sending their hard-earned cash to the terrorist-enabling NRA...
The talks were designed to deal with a problem the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs describes as having created "a worldwide scourge" that has placed weapons in the hands of insurgents, armed gang members, drug lords, pirates and terrorists.
Dishonestly claiming the treaty was intended to regulate domestic U.S. arms sales, the NRA and its supporter, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, led a wholly deceptive charge against the long-sought treaty.
The accord, says Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of Amnesty International, was meant "to prevent countries and arms exporters from selling guns and military hardware to human rights abusers." But such a treaty was a bridge too far for those, like Bolton and the leadership of the NRA, who favor the profits U.S. arms manufacturers can realize if they can sell firearms to anyone and everyone. And, for now, even the Obama administration, which has, time and again, wilted whenever it feels the heat that accompanies an NRA 2nd Amendment propaganda barrage, has proven willing to sacrifice a much needed international treaty rather than square off with the terrorist-enabling NRA and their lies.
"Any treaty that includes civilian firearms ownership in its scope will be met with the NRA's greatest force of opposition," NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said during his purposely deceptive testimony at the UN earlier this month. What he purposely failed to note? The treaty had absolutely nothing to do with "civilian firearms ownership" in the U.S. of any kind.
LaPierre's testimony was just another chapter in the NRA's long-perpetuated scam to continue pimping for the firearms industry by hoaxing their membership into believing that the Obama Administration --- which has, several times, expanded the rights of civilian firearms owners since taking office --- is secretly plotting to undermine the 2nd Amendment in hopes of taking guns away from law abiding citizens.
"I am here to announce NRA's strong opposition to anti-freedom policies that disregard American citizens right to self-defense," LaPierre lied during his UN testimony. "We will not stand idly by while international organizations, whether state-based or stateless, attempt to undermine the fundamental liberties our men and women in uniform have fought so bravely to preserve...and on which our entire American system of government is based"...