The American Bear


NRA Sought Donations in Days After Colorado Shootings - Bloomberg


Three days after a gunman calling himself the Joker from the Batman series shot dead 12 people in a suburban Denver movie theater, the National Rifle Association sent out a letter asking for money.

“The future of your Second Amendment rights will be at stake,” the letter said. “And nothing less than the future of our country and our freedom will be at stake.”

The letter dated July 23, which was sent to NRA supporters including to people in Colorado, doesn’t mention the gunfire during the showing of the new Batman movie July 20 in Aurora, Colorado.

It was also sent as the national debate over gun rights has flared up, prompted by the Aurora shooting and continuing after the Aug. 5 shootings at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee. A gunman, identified as Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old U.S. Army veteran, is suspected of killing six people in that incident before police shot him dead.

The four-page solicitation from NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre was sent to drum up funds to underwrite an advertising and grassroots campaign to defeat President Barack Obama and elect gun-rights supporters in Congress.

NRA chief Wayne LaPierre is as loose a cannon as ever has rolled across our deck, and he has spent the last three years telling anyone who will listen that the reason the president hasn’t yet taken their guns is that he is planning to take their guns. This is not legitimate political rhetoric, even if it is protected political speech. This is the ranting of a madman seeking to convince other people to share his delusions. This is an appeal not even to the political Id, but to something deeper: the vestigial political lizard-brain. There is no logical reason for LaPierre and people like him to engage in this kind of unmoored provocation. Gun control is as dead an issue in our politics as the Northwest Ordinance is. The only possible explanation for why the political lunatics — to say nothing of domestic terrorists — continue to be this reckless is that they no longer are interested in protecting a citizen’s right to bear arms as much as they are interested — obsessed, even — in the preservation of their own power and the profits of the armaments industries that finance the political influence through which they exercise it. Charles Pierce

[T]he NRA recently declared [WI’s] Scott Walker to be ‘one of the strongest pro-gun Governors in the country.’ He ‘has proven his dedication’ to halting any regulation on firearms. Further, the ‘NRA was fully vested in this race with a comprehensive campaign that included tens of millions of online ads and hundreds of thousands of television, radio and print ads… in this remarkable victory for freedom.’ Another “Round” Fired by the NRA at America

Another “Round” Fired by the NRA at America | Jeffrey Sommers

The United States is breaking records for domestic massacres at a rate nearly superseding that of heat records wilting with every passing summer scorching day.  The latest mass shooting occurred yesterday in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was just preceded by a worker in Milwaukee who went “postal” and shot his manager dead, before turning the gun on himself.  Wisconsin has just observed the fifth such mass killing in the past 8 years. The state’s employment environment is precarious.  Wisconsin lost more jobs than any other state in June, the most recent month for which records are available.  Moreover, its job creation record the past 12 months has also been one of the worst in the United States.  Yet, a mere forty years ago people in Milwaukee enjoyed full employment and mean wages 30% above the national average, along with the least inequality between white and African-American workers.  Today sees the inverse.  Now with wages 30% below the national mean and the greatest inequality between white and African-American labor in the United States, Milwaukee and its suburbs are rife with division and tension.  Fueling hatreds are shout-radio jocks injecting xenophobic rants as matches into the tinder of people’s economic insecurity.

Once a stalwart of enlightened progressive values, the area has descended into a state of high anxiety and finger pointing as the problems people face mount daily.  Milwaukee now personifies the once typical northern industrial region that had high-value added, high-pay factory jobs with benefits, later traded away by the “job creators” of the Bain Capital ilk and replaced by low paying jobs with no benefits of the type heralded by Bain’s two “successes,” Dunkin Donuts and Staples.  Quick kills on Wall Street made road kill of the Wisconsin worker and middle class American Dream.

The local police are treating the massacre as “domestic terrorism”.  The perpetrator, Wade Michael Page, was an itinerant white supremacist military veteran who only resided in Wisconsin for a short time.  We don’t know if the divisions created in Wisconsin specifically or the United States generally had any impact on him.  Regardless, he marched into a Sikh temple and started unloading rounds on unsuspecting victims.  America, an often violent country with a significant number of people who once bullied like to bully others, was unfortunately true to form in this tragedy targeting people of one of the world’s most peaceful faiths.  What we know is that Wisconsin, and America, are deeply divided.  Indeed, its Governor, Scott Walker was just caught on video this past January declaring to one of his billionaire patrons that the key to advancing his policy agenda was to “divide & conquer” labor.  The NRA and Tea Party takes their cue from the famous Green Bay Packer couch of lore, Vince Lombardy, who affirmed, “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”  This played well on the green & gold sleet and ice of 1960’s era Green Bay football fields, but it’s no way to run government.  I loved Lombardi, and still do the Packers, but when you “destroy” an opponent on the football field, they lick their wounds, have a few beers, and return to play again no worse for the wear next week.  When you destroy communities, they often never recover.

… the NRA recently declared [Wisconsin Governor] Scott Walker to be “one of the strongest pro-gun Governors in the country.” He “has proven his dedication” to halting any regulation on firearms.  Further, the “NRA was fully vested in this race with a comprehensive campaign that included tens of millions of online ads and hundreds of thousands of television, radio and print ads… in this remarkable victory for freedom.”

In short, our NRA/Tea Party leaders in Wisconsin rule by divide & conquer and take their cues from and are funded by those opposing any reasonable regulation of guns.  The time for hand wringing and prayer is over.  We need to put the NRA in the crosshairs of public scrutiny and ask if their extremism is serving the public interest.  We should also squarely confront ourselves and the leaders who have divided and failed us. Wisconsin’s massacre, unfortunately, is no mystery.  Do such tragedies happen outside of America?  Yes.  With our frequency?  No. Unfortunately, in the current environment of Yosemite Sam gun deregulation, angry man American media, and growing economic insecurity, you can likely expect more. [++]

After the conference wrapped without success, Suzanne Nossel said: ‘This was stunning cowardice by the Obama administration, which at the last minute did an about-face and scuttled progress toward a global arms treaty, just as it reached the finish line.’ These words were doubly strong, as she criticised the very state department where she worked previously, under Hillary Clinton. The UN has pledged to resume the effort to pass an arms trade treaty, despite the intransigence of the country that Martin Luther King called ‘the greatest purveyor of violence in the world’. Until then, bananas will remain more heavily regulated than battleships and bazookas. The Obama administration has torpedoed the arms trade treaty | Amy Goodman

The National Rifle Association’s executive vice-president, Wayne LaPierre, issued the threat before the UN conference that: “Without apology, the NRA wants no part of any treaty that infringes on the precious right of lawful Americans to keep and bear arms.” The NRA organised letters opposing the treaty, signed by 51 senators and 130 members of the House. After the conference ended in failure, the NRA took credit for killing it.

Of course, there is nothing in the treaty that would impact on US domestic gun laws. The rights protected by the cherished Second Amendment (“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”) would remain intact. The NRA’s interest lies not only with individual gun owners, but also with the US weapons manufacturers and exporters. The US is the world’s largest weapons producer, exporter and importer. It is the regulation of this global flow of weaponry that most likely alarms the NRA, not the imagined prospect of the UN taking away the legally owned guns inside the US.

…having these powerful weapons freely available is an excuse to further militarize local law enforcement and to “up” “security” in public spaces. Tolerating criminal weaponry means we have to get rid of the Bill of Rights. You can’t have freedom of assembly if the assembly has assault weapons. Police have to be as well or better armed than the gun nuts. And so peaceful protesters get attacked by police in assault gear, as though they were Marines landing in Tripoli. Juan Cole, How Long will We let the National Rifle Association and Corrupt Politicians Kill our Children? (via azspot)

(via questionall)

NRA Offers 'Stand Your Ground' Insurance To Cover Legal Costs Of Shooting People In Self-Defense | ThinkProgress

In a rare “scoop” for an editorial cartoonist today, Matt Bors skewered a little-known National Rifle Association (NRA) program that offers insurance to cover policy holders’ costs should they become embroiled in a legal battle after shooting someone in self-defense.

The insurance — technically endorsed by the NRA and administered by Lockton Affinity exclusively for NRA members — is available as a rider to the “excess personal liability” plan. Here’s how the website advertises the added coverage for self-defense (emphasis in the original):

What’s Covered:

• Provides coverage up to the limit selected for criminal and civil defense costs.

Cost of civil suit defense is provided in addition to the limit of liability for bodily injury and property damage.

Criminal Defense Reimbursement is provided for alleged criminal actions involving self-defense when you are acquitted of such criminal charges or the charges are dropped.

The basic liability plan costs either $47 or $67 annually, for coverage up to $100,000 or $250,000, respectively. Though the coverage amounts stay the same, a policy holder can add the self-defense insurance by paying $118 or $165 for the lesser coverage, or between $187 and $254 for the larger plan. (The discrepancies are due to the different prices for coverage on two different webpages from the insurer.)

(Source: sarahlee310, via pieceinthepuzzlehumanity-deacti)

How Pro-Gun Laws Swept The Nation Since 2009: A Guide


Despite four years of the NRA crowing about the dangers Barack Obama presents to the Second Amendment, his presidency has been remarkably friendly to the pro-gun cause, and persisting fears to the contrary have inspired a golden era of gun rights in the states. TPM’s Sahil Kapur documents the highlights of pro-gun victories since 2009:

— In 2009, Obama enacted legislation permitting firearms in national parks.

— In 2009, Arizona and Tennessee passed laws letting people carry guns in bars.

— In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to extend federal gun-rights protections to states.

— In 2010, Louisiana approved a bill letting people carry firearms in houses of worship.

— In 2010, Arizona passed a law letting people carry concealed weapons without a permit. In 2011, Wyoming enacted the same law.

— In 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, with considerable bipartisan support, a bill that makes a firearm-carry permit in one state valid in every other state.

— In 2011, Mississippi enacted legislation allowing people to carry firearms on college campuses, and in bars and churches. Later that year, the measure was expanded to include sporting events, polling places, airports, courthouses and other government localities.

— In 2011, North Dakota and Texas passed legislation to ensure that employees may bring a gun to work, as long as it’s locked in a vehicle.

— In 2011, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New Hampshire put into effect versions of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, granting people broad latitude to use lethal force when they perceive a threat to their safety.

The list does not include NRA victories at beating back gun-control efforts, such as prohibiting people on a government-designated terror watch list from buying a firearm, or closing a loophole that allows sales of weapons at gun shows.

(via randomactsofchaos)

NRA Reportedly Seething Over Elimination Of ALEC Task Force

The fallout continues over the American Legislative Exchance Council’s support of the National Rifle Association’s “Kill at Will” self-defense laws. On his site, CNN contributor Erick Erickson reported today that an “NRA representative took issue with ALEC getting rid of his public safety section” at last Wednesday’s weekly conservative discussion hosted by NRA board member Grover Norquist.

Last Tuesday ALEC announced that they were eliminating their Public Safety and Elections task force, which drew fire for its role in promoting NRA-backed gun laws and voter restrictions, and refocusing solely on economic legislation. Over the previous week at least 10 companies had left the organization in the wake of Color of Change’s campaign to encourage corporations to end their association with the group due to their promotion of those laws.

(Source: diadoumenos, via divineirony)

[Ted] Nugent, who delivered his foaming-at-the-mouth peroration at a National Rifle Association convention, earned a visit from the Secret Service with his promise that “if Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” That might or might not constitute an actual threat to the president of the United States. More chilling, to me, was the way his audience of gun enthusiasts applauded in agreement as Nugent compared the Obama administration to a bunch of “coyotes in your living room” who deserve to be shot. Nugent ended by exhorting his listeners: “We are Braveheart. We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Am I — any questions?” Eugene Robinson (via azspot)

(via azspot)

Fmr. Bush Strategist: Conservative Christians Passing Un-Christian Gun Laws | Crooks & Liars

“In Florida, the law says if you raise a claim of self defense after killing someone in public, you can’t even be arrested,” he added. “It’s why prosecutors and police hated this law. It sabotaged our justice system. All this discussion we’ve heard — What did Zimmerman do? What did Trayvon do? — Juries are supposed to figure that out. The Florida law destroys that American system.”

“There is such irony about this,” Dowd agreed. “Most of the states that have passed this including Florida and the ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws and the expanded gun-ownership laws where you can carry a concealed weapon are also the same states and the same legislatures and the same governors who sort of pushed for prayer in the school.”

Dowd continued: “To me, there is such and irony here, that we want to be a Christian nation and we want to act in a Christian manner, but oh, by the way, we don’t believe in the turn your other cheek and we don’t believe in love your enemy. We believe in loading citizens and basically giving them an opportunity to shoot people.”

(Source: manicchill)


“Self-defense is now used more widely than it was under the old law in the State of Florida,” said William Eddins, the state attorney in Pensacola and the president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association. “It is a very broad law in terms of the availability of the defendant to try to take advantage of this law. It has created more litigation for the state in cases involving violence and in murder cases, in particular.”

The state attorney in Tallahassee, Willie Meggs, who fought the (Stand your Ground) law when it was proposed, said: “The consequences of the law have been devastating around the state. It’s almost insane what we are having to deal with.”

It is increasingly used by gang members fighting gang members, drug dealers battling drug dealers and people involved in road rage encounters. Confrontations at a bar are also common: Someone looks at someone the wrong way or bothers someone’s girlfriend. The cases are sometimes successfully argued, and sometimes not.

…Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says that his organization tracks laws in 21 states that extend the self-defense doctrine beyond the home. The usual label for such laws — “stand your ground” — is politically charged, he said, suggesting that a more apt label would be “Shoot first, ask questions later.”

Laws like the one in Florida allow situations like the Trayvon Martin killing, he said. “We’re heartbroken, but we’re not surprised.”

Combining broader boundaries of self-protection while weakening gun-control laws and promoting the “paranoid mentality” that people need guns for self-protection is “a mentality that leads to tragedy,” he said.

The New York Times, “A Florida Law Gets Scrutiny After a Teenager’s Killing”