Tag Archives: NRA

Hero of the Week Award: Sen. Chris Murphy

17 Jun

Chris MurphyThis has been an extraordinarily painful week for the LGBTQ community, in the wake of last Sunday’s massacre. If it is possible for something good to come from all of this hate, homophobia, and fear, I hope part of the healing will come from gun control reform.

Kudos to Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn), for leading the filibuster on the senate floor to expand gun control policies with two specific measures. Yes, this is the very least the senate can do in response to the massacre in Orlando. As a side note, I need to point out that this is also very tied into race, gender, homophobia, and misogyny. The Pulse was — and will be again — a safe space for LGBTQ people, mostly queer people of color. The United States seems to feel it is acceptable to regulate women’s bodies, why can we not regulate guns? Finally the NRA’s bedfellow, Mitch McConnell, has acquiesced and agreed to hold votes for the proposed amendment.

It grows ever wearisome to hear the call for prayers every time we have people murdered by guns. We do not need the prayers, we need gun control! Sadly, I have to offer a dishonorable mention to Florida Governor, Rick Scott, a.k.a Lord Voldemort. When reporters asked Scott if there was anything that could be done on a policy level to prevent future shootings like this, Scott (who has put forth enormous energy to relax gun control laws (there is no waiting period currently to buy the AR-15) replied: “We can pray for the victims, pray for the families and pray this never happens again.” How’s that working so far?

There are at least 27 reported gun deaths EVERY DAY in the United States. The AR-15 was used in the following massacres: Orlando, Florida–49 killed, 53 wounded; Aurora, Colorado, 12 killed, 70 wounded; Sandy Hook, Connecticut, 26 killed; Santa Monica, California, 5 killed, 4 wounded; Roseburg, Oregon, 9 killed; San Bernadino, California, 14 killed, 22 wounded. Maybe its just me, but prayers don’t seem to be doing much to change things. Maybe we need action, such as adopting expansive gun control measures? Want that to happen? Get out and vote!

In addition to Murphy, I want to acknowledge and give an honorable mention to the following Democratic Senators for finally creating significant resistance against the NRA and pushing for greater gun control policies: Richard Blumenthal, and Cory Booker (NJ),  Dick Durbin (IL), Bill Nelson (FL), Chuck Schumer (NY), Joe Manchin (WV), Ben Cardin (MD), Ed Markey (MA), Patrick Leahy (VT), Al Franken (MN), Patty Murray (WA), Gary Peters (MI), Bob Casey (PA), Ron Wyden (OR), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Jeff Merkley (OR), Bob Menendez (NJ), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Claire McCaskill (MO), Mark Warner (VA), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Sherrod Brown (OH), and counting. Yes, I’m very glad to see that both of Oregon’s senators were on this list!

The constitution is a living document and the flaws of the second amendment seem glaringly obvious. Given that no women and no people of color had any representation or voice in drafting the original document, it would stand to reason that this document needs further tweaking to represent more voices.

If you do not see your senator on this list, please contact them and let your voice be heard. I wish everyone a Happy Pride Month and let us not give into fear but share our love and solidarity!

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Mourning James Brady

5 Aug

James BradyJames S. Brady passed away yesterday. I am saddened by this loss and offer my deepest condolences to the family. I remember very clearly the day Ronald Reagan was shot by John W. Hinckley Jr. and watching all the commotion on the television.  We would learn later that it was James Brady, the White House press secretary who was shot in the head. While suffering memory loss, some paralysis that required a wheelchair,  and language impairment, Brady eventually prevailed and was transformed by the tragic incident.

Brady became a fierce gun control advocate and used his power and privilege to encourage the nation to look at requiring background checks and waiting periods for gun owners.  Fortunately, Brady’s legacy is that of working towards greater gun control and eliminating unnecessary deaths. I can only hope that his death will provide the impetus needed to work even harder at limiting access to guns and take a serious look at groups like Open Carry Texas –w hat good is coming from that? Have we learned nothing from the long and absurd history of gun violence in just the last 33 years?

James Brady was a dedicated public servant who turned his personal tragedy into an opportunity to engage the public in a much-needed conversation. His heroic efforts spurred Congress into taking simple, common-sense action. Sadly, 30 years later we see an even more partisan Congress paralyzed by the historically inaccurate Second Amendment rantings of the Tea Party and the shrill but effective lobbying of the NRA. What does it say about our nation that the shooting of one outspoken man could once lead to needed change but the slaughter of dozens of students and children now motivates us to do nothing?

Let us honor James Brady’s legacy by pausing to reflect on our national discourse around guns and look for meaningful solutions to prevent future tragedy.

 

Government Of the Gun Lobby, By the Gun Lobby, For the Gun Lobby?

3 Apr
That's not how I remember it...

That’s not how I remember it…

Just over 100 days ago, Adam Lanza killed his mother, took two guns from her house to Sandy Hook Elementary School, and killed two dozen people there, most of them children under the age of eight. This horrific shooting capped a year with dozens of deaths in public shootings. Public sentiment quickly turned to the need to revisit gun control legislation.

Two basic proposals have massive support, even four months later. Universal background checks for gun purchases enjoys between 80 and 90 percent support cutting across party lines and declared political ideology. Bans or restrictions on certain assault weapons and high capacity clips (the things that made Lanza’s killing spree possible) enjoy 60 to 70 percent support, including a plurality of Republicans. The people want things to change.

Congress has done nothing. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D – CA) sponsored an assault weapons ban. Sen. Charles Schumer (D – NY) led a bipartisan attempt to craft background check legislation. Everything is stalled out in the Senate and the House has made it clear that no action is forthcoming. Why won’t Congress listen to the will of the people? Apparently they are more afraid of the NRA than they are interested in doing their jobs.

Since Sandy Hook, public opinion of the NRA has plummeted. Lunatic spokesman Wayne LaPierre’s bizarre rants and proposal to arm every school have been met with scorn and disapproval. Somehow, however, the fear that the NRA will fund opponents of gun control has Congress paralyzed. The myth of the power of the Second Amendment and the very loud “out of my cold, dead hands” minority are ruling the day.

There has been a little progress. Connecticut (not surprisingly) is poised to pass sweeping new gun regulations; New York already has. So has Colorado, long a bastion of Western libertarianism and gun freedom. In the special election to pick the Democrat to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr. in Illinois, Robin Kelly ran on a strong gun control platform. Despite NRA resistance, she won handily, speaking to the needs of the district. These should be lessons.

Instead, judges who have ruled for reasonable gun restrictions are filibustered and no reasonable laws are moving. The American people overwhelmingly want action. We need to speak up. Contact your Representative and Senator. Insist that they take action and remind them that the will of the people is bigger than the NRA’s purse. It’s time we ensured that our representative government really represents us.

Hero of the Week: February 8, Kathleen Sebelius and the Dept. of Health and Human Services

8 Feb
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

In the wake of the tragic shootings in Newton, national attention centered on the issue of guns. One frequent sidebar, however, was mental illness. The NRA seized on this, insisting, ironically, on a national registry of the mentally ill. For a while it seemed that shrill voices and fear would capitalize on the existing stigma and further marginalize those with mental health issues, making care for the mentally ill even more challenging. Fortunately, calmer voices are prevailing.

In a wonderful editorial this week, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius outlines the recent history of mental health care and what her agency intends to do to improve things. Like too many caring, common sense aspects of government, inclusive approaches to mental health started nearly 50 years ago and have been undermined by the Reaganite approach to strangling government programs. Sebelius intends to reverse that trend.

She rightly identified the main problems as stigma, early diagnosis and care, and well-funded and accessible programs. Building on the fundamentals already rolling out thanks to the Affordable Care Act, HHS will be working on new programs to ensure people get the care they need and encourage people  seek timely, meaningful help. Thank you, Madam Secretary, for taking this growing problem seriously and treating it with humanity and dignity.

Thanks to my friend Jennifer Carey for this week’s honorable mention. In another welcome move from the Obama administration, the Department of Defense has announced plans to begin implementing benefits for same-sex partners of military personnel. Sadly, because of DOMA, many of the more than 1100 benefits provided to heterosexual couples are blocked. With the dismantling of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, however, gay and lesbian military personnel can be open about their families and the government can provide some basic benefits for them. It is delightful to see another agency taking the mandate of the President’s second term seriously and moving forward — with or without Congress — to do the right thing for the American people.

Bigot of the Week Award: January 18, National Rifle Association. Again. Really.

18 Jan
Bigot of the Week

Bigot of the Week

In the month since the Sandy Hook shootings, the NRA (Nasty Repulsive Arrogant) has exceeded all its previous behavior and shown its true colors at every turn. Somehow, they managed to top themselves AGAIN this week. In a clear preemptive strike against President Obama’s upcoming press conference — at which he discussed VP Biden’s gun task force recommendations — the shoot everybody ‘casue some of ’em are bound to be guilty organization released their most odious and racist advertisement yet.

The spot, titled “Elitist Hypocrite” targets the President, presumably to undermine his credibility before he even presented his plan. The sick, tragic core of the ad is an attack on his parenting skills based on gross misinformation about his daughters and their school. (The ad is here if you can stomach it.) An ominous voice asks “Are the President’s kids more important than yours?” The rest of the ad talks about the security given to the President’s children and mentions the security staff at the school they attend. It then calls the President a hypocrite for protecting his kids and opposing armed guards at every school in the country.

This is so vile on so many levels that I don’t know where to start. What happened to the simple decency of leaving presidential kids alone as innocent members of an important family? Oops! Did I just expect decency from the NRA? Silly me.

They also neatly overlook the fact that these two children are at massively higher risk than most other kids and that providing security for the families of dozens of high-profile political families is common sense and long-established practice. Whatever the NRA would like us to believe, they also lie about the Obama girls’ school. It has NO ARMED PRESENCE. The security officers carry no weapons, making the hypocrisy charge an ugly falsehood.

Can we also talk about racism here? Need I really remind the NRA that people of color are profiled unjustly in such horrifically disproportionate ways?

Can anyone take this bloated lobbying whore seriously? Well over 90% of Americans (including 90% of gun owners) support common sense gun reforms including background checks. Of course those who only profit from more gun sales don’t care who is safe or what anyone thinks. They just lie their way to the bank.

Thanks go to my friend Jennifer Carey for this week’s dishonorable mention. Mike O’Neal (R), Speaker of the House in Kansas, sent an email to his colleagues calling for the death of President Obama. Lifting a passage from the bible (Psalm 109, calling for the death of a leader), he gleefully wished of the President

May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.

O’Neal refuses to apologize and insists the comment was taken out of context. How exactly a direct bible quote with the observation “At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president!” is out of context he didn’t bother to explain.  What kind of monster is O’Neal? It will take a lot more than prayers to help this man.

Number 1 Bigot of the Year 2012: National Rifle Association

31 Dec
Number 1 Bigot of 2012

Number 1 Bigot of 2012

This year’s nominations for Bigot of the Year were pretty remarkable, as you have no doubt noticed over the past few days. Thanks again go to all the TSM readers who took the time to recommend their choices for awful behavior and social injustice. It was a bit of a surprise with all those great nominations to have someone come out of nowhere and grab the top spot. With the insane rantings of its VP Wayne LaPierre and its manic worship at the altar of firearms in the wake of Sandy Hook, however, the NRA managed to do just that.

The shooting tragedy in Newtown was among the worst in U.S. history. Children of 6 and 7 were being buried as LaPierre broke the NRA silence and made his now infamous speech.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

How about not letting the “bad guy” have a gun whose only purpose is to destroy human flesh? How about really enforcing the lamentably weak gun laws we already have? How about not using racism and class warfare to scare people into thinking they need to carry a gun wherever they go?

The NRA’s general behavior as one of the largest and most feared lobbying organizations was bad enough. Over the past year or so, however, they’ve upped the ante significantly. Apparently fearing action in the courts that might result in support for reasonable gun laws, the NRA has begun meddling in judicial appointments. Justices Kagan and Sotomayor are the first two ever “rated” by the organization, clearly targeting votes in their favor as being anti-gun, something many Senators fear. NRA operatives are also working hard to scuttle an arms trade treaty in the U.N.

They’ve also launched a sister organization, the American Silencer Association, to push sales of the one legal firearm enhancement that might have made Adam Lanza’s attack more devastating. The sales pitch? Silencers make guns safer for children’s hearing. Really.

Congratulations, NRA leaders. You’ve demonstrated such lack of compassion and judgment that LaPierre was billed on the New York Daily News as the “Craziest Man On Earth.” Sadly, far too many in power listen to the kind of crazy his money buys.

Dishonorable mention goes to the NRA’s partners in tastelessness. Mike Huckabee already came in at #5 for the year, partly on the strength of his screed about putting “God back in schools” to avoid another Sandy Hook. The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer gets a nod for similar words, delivered in his own inimitable crazed style. Last but by no means least, the National Review for its misogynistic editorial that just having more men in schools would butch them up enough to stop potential killers. Let’s try to learn from the real lessons of Sandy Hook, and not from these ranters and opportunists.  Now is the time to look at gun control, racial profiling, and angry white men.

Bigot of the Week Award: December 21, The National Review with a Shot of NRA

21 Dec
Bigots of the Week

Bigots of the Week

Yes, this is the first time in TSM history we actually have a tie for BWA, but WOW! we got some dirt and hate that just won’t wash clean.  In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, the response from The National Review (also known as the “He Man Women Haters Club”) and the behavior of the NRA have just about pushed me over the edge of civility.  Yes, there are some folk I would just love to slap bald, in my best pacifist way of course.

The National Review published the most toxic misogyny as an opinion piece about the shootings. I’ll let them speak for themselves:

There was not a single adult male on the school premises when the shooting occurred. In this school of 450 students, a sizeable number of whom were undoubtedly 11- and 12-year-old boys (it was a K–6 school), all the personnel — the teachers, the principal, the assistant principal, the school psychologist, the “reading specialist” — were female. There didn’t even seem to be a male janitor to heave his bucket at Adam Lanza’s knees. Women and small children are sitting ducks for mass-murderers. […]

[An elementary school is] in general, a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm. Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak — but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel.

I don’t know where to start. How about saying that male aggression is a good thing when all 28 dead are the victims of that very thing? How about maintaining that women are weak and defenseless and must have men around to protect them? How about ignoring the bravery and sacrifice of the women who ran that school, some of whom died facing male aggression? This writer automatically gets a nomination for Bigot of the Year. (As an added bonus, many of the basic facts of the article were simply wrong, including the fact that one of the staff — the janitor in fact — was male. Facts don’t matter when there’s hate to spew!)

Meanwhile, the NRA spent most of the week in its camo fatigues. Trying to ignore the fact that its lobbyists made it possible for Adam Lanza to get his hands on the weapons he used to butcher children, the usually loud gun group was suspiciously silent. They took down their Facebook page and their usual fusillade of tweets was stilled. When they finally had something to say, it was tepid.

Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.

Followed by a defensive statement by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.

I think an unprecedented attack on the Second Amendment is going to come hard, I think it is going to come fast, and I think it is going to come soon.

Yeah, that sure sounds like a “meaningful contribution” to changing the status quo. The NRA is almost solely responsible for the fact that most Americans can buy automatic weapons whose only conceivable purpose is to maim and kill other human beings. Once those weapons have been purchased, they can easily fall into anyone’s hands. In what world does that make any conceivable sense? Massacres like Sandy Hook are impossible without this kind of firepower. Let the NRA feel like the victim here; it’s about time they understood how the thousands of families that suffer gun violence every year feel.

Don’t forget, TSM is still taking nominations for Bigot of the Year Award.

UPDATE: By now everyone is probably aware that since they won the BWA this week, the NRA has jumped the shark. LaPierre — looking like a tired and seedy televangelist — presented the organization’s “meaningful contribution.” After this stereotypical representative of the aging white male power structure blamed Hollywood, the media, and video games for the violence, he offered a two-pronged solution. First, stigmatize the suffering by creating a mental health registry; the weapons don’t matter, after all, it’s just those crazy people! (Pot, meet kettle.) Second, put an armed guard in every school and eliminate gun-free zones around schools so potential killers won’t know where to find lots of easy victims. The NRA used to be an organization for gun owners; it has fully transformed into a lobby for weapons manufacturers and a haven for extremist white paranoia. How sad.

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