NRA’s Vision: A Nation Packing Heat

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FILE - In this Friday, Dec. 21, 2012 file photo, The National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, speaks during a news conference in response to the Connecticut school shooting in Washington. The nation's largest gun-rights lobby is calling for armed police officers to be posted in every American school to stop the next killer "waiting in the wings." (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

We wrote and spoke about guns just a few days before Christmas, following the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. So did Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association. His now infamous, “no questions” press conference was the most stunning, cockeyed, one-man show since Clint Eastwood addressed that empty chair at the Republican National Convention.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he pronounced.

LaPierre might well have plagiarized his vision of a wholly armed nation from another “man of the people” of 40 years ago, the protagonist in the famous sit-com All in the Family. On a 1972 episode, when a local TV station comes out in favor of gun control, Archie Bunker hits the airwaves with an editorial rebuttal:

Good evening, everybody. This here is Archie Bunker of 704 Hauser Street, veteran of the big war, speaking on behalf of guns for everybody. Now, question: what was the first thing that the Communists done when they took over Russia? Answer: gun control. And there’s a lot of people in this country want to do the same thing to us here in a kind of conspiracy, see. You take your big international bankers, they want to — whaddya call — masticate the people of this here nation like puppets on the wing, and then when they get their guns, turn us over to the Commies…

Now I want to talk about another thing that’s on everybody’s minds today, and that’s your stick-ups and your skyjackings, and which, if that were up to me, I could end the skyjackings tomorrow… All you gotta do is arm all your passengers. He ain’t got no more moral superiority there, and he ain’t gonna dare to pull out no rod. And then your airlines, they wouldn’t have to search the passengers on the ground no more, they just pass out the pistols at the beginning of the trip, and they just pick them up at the end! Case closed.

Case closed. Except that Archie Bunker’s a fictional character, created by Norman Lear, who knew better. Not Wayne LaPierre — he’s real and he means business. Big business.

Every time we have another of these mass slayings and speak of gun control, weapon sales go up. And guess what? As journalist Lee Fang reports in The Nation, “For every gun or package of ammunition sold at participating stores, a dollar is donated to the NRA.” Customers can make a contribution at the point of purchase or the gun companies make an automatic donation every time the cash register rings. Last year, just one of those merchants of death, Midway USA, used one of these NRA programs to give the gun lobby a million dollars.

Naturally, in a country where even life and death are measured by the profit margin, the cure for gun violence is, yes, more guns!

So naturally, in a country where even life and death are measured by the profit margin, the cure for gun violence is, yes, more guns! Bigger profits. Never mind that just before La Pierre spoke, three were shot and killed outside Altoona, Pennsylvania. Or that early on Christmas Eve morning, in Webster, New York, two volunteer firemen were called to the scene of a fire, then executed by an ex-con who allegedly set the blaze and murdered them with the same kind of assault rifle used against those school kids and their teachers in Newtown. Or that on New Year’s Eve, in Sacramento, California, reportedly in a fight over a spilled drink, a 22-year-old opened fire in a bar, killing two and wounding two others. In fact, according to Slate.com and the Twitter feed @GunDeaths, at this writing, in just those few weeks since the Newtown slaughter of the innocent, more than 400 have died from guns in America. That should boost the last quarter profit margins. Not surprising, the merchants of death are experiencing a Happy New Year.

We have to keep talking about this, because Wayne LaPierre and the NRA will keep talking and they are insidious and powerful predators. Have you seen the reports in both the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and The Washington Post of how, 16 years ago, the NRA managed to get Congress to pull funding on gun violence studies at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Since then, JAMA reports, “… at least 427,000 people have died of gunshot wounds in the United States, including more than 165,000 who were victims of homicide. To put these numbers in context, during the same time period, 4586 Americans lost their lives in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Last year, Congress stopped the National Institutes of Health from spending any money that might be construed as advocating or promoting gun control. There’s even a section that was snuck into President Obama’s Affordable Care Act that prevents doctors from collecting information on their patients’ gun use. Denise Dowd, an emergency-care physician in Kansas City and adviser on firearms issues to the American Academy of Pediatrics, told the Post, “This illustrates the fact that the NRA has insinuated themselves into the small crevices of anything they can to do anything in their power to prohibit sensible gun-safety measures.”

As Wayne LaPierre’s brazen call for an armed populace makes clear, the odds don’t favor common sense. Several members of the new Congress are reintroducing bills that would change the gun laws and USA Today reports that the White House is “likely” to issue its recommendations January 15, but there are always those legislators willing to do the gun lobby’s bidding as they profess their love of the Second Amendment and wait like hungry house pets for the next NRA campaign donation.

Every American packing heat is a frightening vision of our future. It doesn’t have to be, if only we stop and think. That’s what a fellow named Frank James did. He stopped, thought — and changed directions. A pawn shop owner in Seminole, Florida, whose youngest child is six, Frank James told a local ABC station he has decided to stop selling guns.

“It’ll probably cause my business to go out of business because it was a big part of it but I just couldn’t live with myself,” he said.” I thought, wow, this is crazy. As a gun dealer myself, I’m like, yes, we need more gun control. Guns are getting into the wrong hands of the wrong people.”

He also said, “I’m not going to be a part of it anymore. Conscience wins over making money.”

Thank you, Mr. James.

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  • Jerry L Hobson

    If armed security is so bad for our schools: Why does ever political person, stars, banks, airlines have so much protection. Our children deserve better. Go after the problems of society. The problem scumbags are the one’s who pulled the trigger. Slamming the NRA president shows that only the” gun part ” of the presentation sunk in. Listen to the whole presentation. Your building has armed protection. My, just like yours police responce is 10 minutes. You want to take my personal protection away so the bad guy can get more accomplished before the police get there. Reading your comment policy this will most likely be deleted because I do not agree with you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cynthia-Faisst/754258940 Cynthia Faisst

    Frank James is a hero. Thank goodness for the love he has for his children. Here is a man looking for a better way to meet the needs of Seminole. Someone should donate enough new musical instruments to his pawn shop for every child in the community.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cynthia-Faisst/754258940 Cynthia Faisst

    Its too late the moment you ;start carrying a weapon around for your own self defence. Come up with a more proactive solution for the problems in your community. Do something creative more often and volunteer. It will cure your PTSD.

  • AndreaMorisetteGrazzini

    Mr. James is the kind of man this Country needs far more of. One who actually does put the well-being of his family above and before all. And doesn’t just give it lip service, but proves it through his actions–no matter what the financial costs.

    His is a model our Country would do well to follow. We have been talking about gun control for years. We say we want to protect our citizens, but our actions belie our words — and the outcomes have been nothing short of tragic, and shameful, really.

    It may be that there is the occasional political leader or pundit who truly wants to achieve substantive changes on gun violence. One who is man (or woman) enough to practice what they preach — as Mr. James has — and be wiling take a financial risk in order to stop risking the lives of Americans, by standing up to the NRA. But it would be exceedingly naive of us citizens to believe it until we see it.

    In fact, ending our being controlled by gun sellers may be a job only courageous citizens can get done. Sad as it is that we can’t count of their elected representatives to. But time and again, politicians have proven their careers come before their principles—not to mention the promises they make to us voters. So, here’s what I suggest:

    http://dynamicshift.org/archives/action-not-talk-is-needed-to-end-gun-violence

    With it, I suggest it’s time American’s wrest their power to solve gun violence. And take back our Right to lead our Country in protecting our children–and their posterity.

    We can’t wait for our oddly (ominously?) impotent leaders. They’ve proven only that they’ll easily cave to coercion, especially when it’s backed by NRA’s guns and money, in ways they never would if foreign terrorists made threats half as deadly as those the NRA succeeds with. If any politicians do happen to have the strength of character and courage to do the right thing, I imagine, they’d be more than glad to have citizens on their side.

    Andrea Morisette Grazzini

  • Davideros

    Your comment hasn’t been deleted, I notice, just like it hasn’t been deleted every time you get on here trollishly and say the same bloody thing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cynthia-Faisst/754258940 Cynthia Faisst

    Where is the mother’s committee to defang the weapons industry by creating an organization that makes profiting from guns sales obsolete? How many of our banks are dependent on this financial flow? I fear what it means if a significant part of our economic recovery is being financed by the weapons industry. Are we dancing with the devil?

  • San

    With decent folk, criminals & the deranged each having
    easy access to military style weapons, all are in the
    same dilemma now: no peace for anyone. Unless the US banned/
    made it illegal for anyone except law officials & military to keep & own
    these weapons; with a stiff fine if caught (adding ten extra years in jail for
    any criminal offender caught) then a gun ban will help little. We would
    need to ban what is stockpiled for effective results. Restricting
    the amount of ammo in a clip is easily looped – load up on clips. It would
    likely be a shock to learn just how many already own an unlawful amounts of
    ammo. This may be one reason many protest they’ll never allow all weapons &
    ammo to be registered & or regulated. Even serious and civil discussion has been
    taboo. Democratic freedom of thought is our liberty and we should make sure
    it is exceedingly difficult to squelch. This issue needs microscopic examination
    & public exposure non-stop. Thank You, Mr. Moyers.

  • Anonymous

    I heard an interview on The Takeaway, NPR last week .
    The interview was stunning. It describes how the NRA is really controlling our gun law
    enforcement through an army of lobbyists. I hadn’t heard
    that before. A change in gun laws a few years ago basically
    neutered the ATF. The ATF actually has to report to the NRA lobbyists for approval before they make any changes or take action. That is scary.

    The New York Times article mentioned in the program that ran last week is also powerful.

    Chris Jonsson

    Dallas, TX

    http://www.wnyc.org/blogs/wnyc-news-blog/2012/dec/27/former-head-atfs-national-tracing-center-director-says-gun-lobby-controls-agency

    WNYC
    News Blog
    Lack of Leadership, Influence of Gun
    Lobby Hamper ATF Gun Efforts
    Thursday, December 27, 2012 – 11:50
    AM
    By Alec
    Hamilton

    NYT Article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/us/legislative-handcuffs-limit-atfs-ability-to-fight-gun-crime.html?hp&_r=0

  • Diksum

    This is a most twisted and distorted essay on who the NRA is and their position on second amendments rights. Moyers can smugly use a fictional TV character, Archie Bunker, a bigot and buffoon and compare him to Wayne LaPierre. Moyers, however, seems to have no idea how to combat gun violence. He babbles aimlessly about his perception of the problem, condemns those who don’t agree with his “correct” position, then offers no solutions. It’s Moyers who is the buffoon, as he has so often demonstrated. And you who applaud his position here share his buffoonery.

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.vancleave Philip Van Cleave

    Gun control fails every time it is tried. When there is a mass shooting with a high body count, does it happen at a gun show? Nope, a gun-free zone. The need for self-defense against evil people has been with us since the beginning of time and will be with us until the end of time. Mr. James can go out of business if he likes – his choice. Someone else will fill the void should he leave one.

  • Anonymous

    AmosBurrittCollapse

    “We have to keep talking about this, because Wayne LaPierre and the NRA will keep talking and they are insidious and powerful predators….”

    Predators? One the one hand, we have the NRA, with their pocket change from the sale of a few boxes of ammo and its membership contributions, while on the other hand we have a violence-saturated media in this country, glorifying guns 24/7 to the tune of countless billions of dollars. And then we also have our poor struggling pharmaceutical industry, which is loading up a whole nation of junkies with violence-inducing SSRIs. That would be the industry which is estimated will have a market of $1.3 trillion by 2020.

    Sure folks……..follow my hand ……….it’s just the NRA that’s the real predator in this story. It’s the NRA…..you are getting sleepy…….it’s the NRA………you’re mind is relaxing……..it’s the NRA………they are evil child-killers…………evil NRA………you are getting sleepy……….close your eyes……..evil evil NRA……predators………..the NRA is out to kill your child………

    “16 years ago, the NRA managed to get Congress to pull funding on gun violence studies at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Since then, JAMA reports, “at least 427,000 people have died of gunshot wounds in the United States, including more than 165,000 who were victims of homicide. To put these numbers in context, during the same time period, 4,586 Americans lost their lives in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    And those estimated hundreds of thousands which our benevolent government (that would be the same one which wants to disarm its civilians) has killed through its patently illegal aggression on the other side of the globe while killing those 4,586 Americans? Well, I guess that’s just not part of Moyer’s “context.”

    Moyers also talks about 1972 and cites an All in the Family episode from that time. 1972? Hmmm…….that year seems to ring a bell. Wouldn’t that have been around the time that our government had succeeded in killing over 50,000 Americans and cost the lives of two million or so Vietnamese with another one of its overseas wars? And wasn’t that precisely the year that the general public became aware that our government was secretly bombing Cambodia, which laid the groundwork for the genocide of 1-2 million unarmed Cambodian civilians under a murderous regime? And was it not this murderous regime which our government then “reluctantly” supported at the UN, AFTER the Khmer Rouge genocide was common knowledge throughout the world?

    As long as we are talking context here, I have a simple question for Mr. Moyers: How far do you think that all of this gun (bomb, napalm, etc) – related violence in Vietnam would have gotten, had every peasant in South Vietnam been allowed by the US and its succession of surrogate South Vietnamese governments during the 1960’s to own an AK47 with several high capacity clips and plenty of ammo?

    I’m not holding my breath waiting for an answer to that one.

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    Reply

  • Nana

    What if only police and the military had guns? To see an example watch a movie titled “Schindler’s List”. This administration is trampling all over the Constitution and getting away with it. I would support the NRA long before supporting the current administration.

  • concerned2337

    Yes! We must have :Gun Restrictions”: Yes, we must make Gun Restrictions, NEW LAWS that will SCARE CRIMINALS. Stop criminals with guns who will cripple-kill people who can’t defend themselves. This is a possible idea that could really work: Stop criminals WITH FEAR: HAVE A TRIAL IN A COURT OF LAW, IF FOUND GUILTY: THE DEATH SENTENCE. 1. We must have a judicial court with 12 people on the jury to be able to try a criminal: a fair trial. All facts weighted, and there is do doubt of the guilt. 2. MANDATORY DEATH SENTENCE, if found guilty. No waiting on Death Row for months or years. Save the grieving family more pain. Save our country a great deal of money. 3. No plea of insanity in needed: Whatever made them do the crime: childhood trauma, drugs, anger…doesn’t matter. they are monsters, sociopaths, outrageous bullies. they deserve the Death Sentence.
    Benefits of this law: it will make the Thieves, Thugs, Murderes, Crazy People on DRUGS, think and know that their life will be cut short – immediately, if not sooner. Other law-abiding people can have guns and not even register them. Killing in schools, malls, churches, theaters: DEATH SENTENCE. Drive-by shootings: DEATH SENTENCE WeMust must have guns to protect and defend ourselves and be ready to protect our neighborhoods and nation. Remember: A. Calling 911 is not quick enough B. Burglers HATE: AN ARMED PUBLIC….AND DOGS! C. A famous Japanese Admiral during ww2 said: they didn’t invade the mainland of America because the citizens had too many CARS …AND GUNS!. Please think of this – we do absolutly need to get rid of criminals killing anyone they feel like. It is out of hand. So we must stop them with a strong law like this: Thank you. Keep your powder dry.