Tag Archives: NRA

After Further Review…

President Obama discussing the tragedy in Charleston.

Guns.

I have previously posted my position on guns and gun control. I maintain my core belief that firearms are a tool and that the tool is not the source of evil or the inherent problem. This is, in my opinion, a fundamentally logical argument.

It’s also an argument that I am now willing to abandon.

After further review, I believe it is time for comprehensive and aggressive changes to our gun control laws. This is a position that I have, for the majority of my life, been against. However, in light of recent events and in the absence of any other real substantive solutions, I am willing to argue for a constitutional amendment to dramatically alter the Second Amendment.

I don’t do this lightly. Although I have been painfully disappointed with several of President Obama’s decisions during the course of his presidency, I believe at the end of the day, he is a decent man, albeit severely lacking the fortitude to accomplish the many things he promised as candidate Obama. But on gun control and his speech after the massacre in Charleston, he got it right. This is the Obama I voted for.

It’s time. We as a nation must enact sweeping gun control legislation to limit the availability of firearms in our country. It must be done. Eliminating military grade, so-called “assault weapons” is a start, but sweeping legislation must be immediately enacted to control and restrict firearm purchases. Money must be spent to upgrade the background check process. EVERY firearm needs to be accounted for.

I hear the hue and cry from the right already and as a staunch opponent of giving the government any more of my information or usurping any more of my liberties, I have to say that I’m willing to take the proverbial bullet on this one.

It’s the only way.

We need to have the political fortitude to stand up to the N.R.A. and the right-wing fear mongerers and say enough is enough. Too much of our precious human capital has been reduced to so many police blotter statistics.

The killing must stop and I’m willing to compromise my core beliefs in an attempt to make this happen. How about you?

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The Death of Compromise…

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As previously documented in this blog, I own guns and support the rights of gun owners and the second amendment.

But I’d like to think I’m willing to compromise. For example, if you can guarantee me that ALL guns will magically be removed from the hands of criminals and mentally ill in this country, I’d be willing to consider surrendering my guns.

I also feverishly support stringent background checks and waiting periods for purchasing weapons.

I’m also a (former) reader of Guns & Ammo magazine, and I particularly enjoyed the last page musings of Dick Metcalf. His insights on guns and the gun culture always seemed measured and reasonable.

So of course he was fired.

His termination brilliantly exposes the current state of the “gun culture” and the power of the NRA in this country.

Draw the line and don’t budge. Be afraid. Fight to the finish.

And die doing so…

I simply can’t believe that the majority of Americans will ultimately buy into the crap the NRA spews these days. And I suspect that in light of increasingly tragic school shootings, at some point the NRA will implode under the weight of their own fear and bigotry.

I hope.

This issue…this failure to find common ground: compromise, is very well-known in the middle east.

As the war criminals George W. Bush and Dick Cheney sip martini’s and enjoy their golden years, hundreds of thousands of children are dying in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen as the DIRECT result of the destabilization of that region by our government.

And now in this gargantuan power vacuum, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, or “the Levant” as they are now known, are predictably exploiting this for their own Neanderthal agenda.

Shia and Sunni. Black and White. Christian and Muslim.

No compromise.

My way or the highway.

An eye for an eye.

When does it end?


How The N.R.A. is Taking Our Guns

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Some form of assault weapon ban is likely to pass at the federal level in the next few years.  Semi-automatic rifles that have certain characteristics will be banned.  And more people will die.  This well-intentioned yet ill-conceived and uninformed law will NOT reduce the kind of violence that ironically was its catalyst.

We as a society, suffer from a lack of will…a dearth of the collective ability to critically and dispassionately analyze a problem and offer cogent solutions.  And if  by some miracle we were to do so, we lack the political vision to exercise a concept called compromise.  And this is why the N.R.A. will be largely responsible for the very ban they are screeching to halt.

Of the current knee-jerk responses to Sandy Hook, one actually makes real sense.  Universal background checks for potential gun owners.  I have them in my state and didn’t blink when I was asked to submit to the process and wait 10 days to get my gun…it simply made sense and I saw the societal value of the regulation.  Any law-abiding gun owner should easily be able to wrap their head around this concept.  Let’s not let criminals buy guns.  Let’s not let folks with documented mental illnesses or those under restraining orders buy guns.  Pretty simple concept at its core, yet to the N.R.A., this is apparently an invasion of privacy of epic proportions and a sure sign that Uncle Sam will be knocking on your door to take your guns away someday.  That the evil empire will have access to your name, address, and that fact that you legally own a firearm.  God forbid they have that stuff…oh wait, other than the owning a gun part, they already have that you neanderthals…it’s called income taxes, but then again some of your ilk aren’t big supporters of that either, so you’ll forgive me for calling out your dysfunction.

Comprehensive mental health, public safety, and firearms regulation funding are the only solutions that offer some common sense solutions to the firearm related tragedies we too frequently read about.  Sadly, these things cost money, require political courage, and frankly aren’t sexy.  It’s too easy for the left (of which I am a proud member) to ignorantly decry that the guns are the problem while the right petulantly and dangerously oppose background checks while screaming that the sky is falling.

I honestly was  hoping to pick up an AR style semi-automatic rifle someday.  If you are a firearms enthusiast like me, it’s a cool weapon and a great addition to a collection.  If I’m not allowed to own one (currently I can’t really in my state anyway) as the result of common sense and multi-faceted legislation aimed at reducing gun violence, I’ll be disappointed but am willing to make that compromise.  I don’t think these weapons should be banned as they are not the issue, but if they are…I will have Wayne LaPierre and his cronies at the N.R.A. to thank…

Nice job Wayne…


A Bullet Point Primer on Guns

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As the debate about “guns” heats up and the administration is on the cusp of making their recommendations, I’d like to add my two cents and help frame the issue so that we are asking the right questions and seeking the solutions that we can all agree on:  reducing firearm related mass shootings.  After all, these tragedies are what has propelled the issue back into the national spotlight.

Let’s start with my prejudices:

  • I’m a registered Democrat and proud liberal
  • I’m a supporter of the second amendment
  • I’m a FORMER member of the N.R.A.
  • It’s my opinion that the N.R.A. believes promoting fear is their best strategy for keeping their constituents, the gun industry and millions of law-abiding gun owners, happy and secure in the “knowledge” that draconian government storm troopers will not be knocking their doors down to confiscate their weapons (I’m not making this up folks)

Let’s frame the debate:

  • We all want to stop these tragedies, but how?
  • This blog succinctly frames the overarching issues in this debate…is it about gun control or people control?
  • After considering the points listed in the blog cited above…now what about the guns?
  • A gun is an inanimate object…period.

Two of the most politically sexy methods of stopping these mass shootings are by banning “Military Style Assault Weapons” and the purchase/use of high-capacity magazines.

Let’s define these terms and look at some irrefutable facts:

  • This is a weapon commonly identified as a “Military Style Assault Weapon” 

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  • This is a weapon that is commonly identified, simply, as an autoloading hunting rifle:

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What is the COSMETIC difference between these two rifles?   

  • The assault rifle has a protruding handle for the right hand, the hunting rifle does not

What is the FUNCTIONAL difference between these two rifles?

  • NONE…they both fire one bullet each time the trigger is pulled.   I repeat, there is NO functional difference between these rifles

What is the downrange, or end use damage difference between these two rifles?

  • The assault rifle pictured (like the majority of the classified assault rifles, including the Sandy Hook weapon) are a .223 caliber weapon
  • The hunting rifle pictured is a .308 win caliber but is configurable in other calibers all more deadly than the .223
  • So the facts are that the hunting rifle, one not heretofore entered into the ban discussion, is actually a deadlier weapon than the so-called “assault” weapon (those experts on ballistics and terminal velocity will excuse my oversimplification)

Fact:

  • By a two-to-one margin, the majority of deaths in mass shooting are carried out by handguns
  • High-capacity magazines are classified as clips that contain more than 10 bullets.

I had my son time me this weekend.  How long, I wondered, would it take me to change the magazines on my .45 cal Semi-Automatic pistol:

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  • It took me 4.2 seconds, to clumsily I might add, change magazines and effectively double the capacity of this weapon.  Experienced marksmen, or those with even a little practice, can do this in under two seconds.
  • Two seconds (or 4.2 for a 51 y/o man with no practice) is what we are buying with the high-capacity magazine ban…fact

Some definitions and facts for those unfamiliar with firearms:

  • Automatic weapon:  trigger pulled once and gun fires a rapid stream of bullets
  • Semi-automatic weapon: trigger pulled once and gun fires one bullet.  It is not an automatic and cannot be legally modified as such
  • Single action weapon:  an additional function must be performed prior to pulling the trigger and firing one bullet (examples are pulling the hammer back on a single action revolver or pumping <racking> a pump-action shotgun)

Summary:

  • These mass killings make me sick to my stomach and makes my heart ache and I too want solutions
  • I am in favor of, and demand, background checks and waiting periods for any firearm purchase
  • I am willing to entertain bans on certain firearms if the argument is fact-based
  • Reducing these killings will require a multidisciplinary approach, but as it relates to firearms, unless the parties are willing to agree upon the aforementioned indisputable facts, the firearm component of this debate will continue to be steeped in prejudice and misinformation and further polarize extremists on both sides of this issue.

“We can’t accept events like this as routine…”

President Obama Visits Newtown, CT, Consoles Families Of Shooting Victims

The words of President Barack Obama at the memorial service for the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre.

This isn’t about guns.  And it’s not entirely about mental illness.  It’s about numbness…routine.  And it’s about will.

If we don’t act now in a responsible manner to evaluate the causes and conditions of these tragedies, in a realistic and brutally honest way, we will become numb to them again…and they will fall into the chasm of the routine.

First…guns.  I own them and I’ve discussed my thoughts on gun control in other posts.  Guns are not the problem.  Guns are tools, inanimate objects used by humans.  I’ll say this: if I thought for a second a ban of “assault” weapons would stop these mass shootings, I’d be the first person sounding the Klaxons.  It will not.  In fact, the majority of deaths caused in these shootings, by a two to one margin, were the result of handguns.  I’m not going to get into the semantics of what constitutes an “assault” weapon, but suffice it to say, that banning them will do nothing unless we are willing, as a nation, to ban all firearms.  An “assault” weapon is no more deadly than a Glock handgun or Barney Fife’s six-gun.  That is a fact.  The velocity created by rifles are deadlier, but simply because a weapon is called an “assault” rifle, does NOT change the core characteristics or end stage results of the projectile.  It’s smoke and mirrors created by honest and good people who are simply misinformed about firearms and who have chosen to vilify guns as the cause of these horrors.   I am a former NRA member who quit specifically because of their fanatical devotion to the second amendment and demonization of our current President.  I would sacrifice all of my weapons today if you can guarantee that ALL weapons will be destroyed.  No one can do that and as such I will continue to support efforts for law abiding, responsible citizens to own handguns and long guns.  The NRA is an antiquated political machine that has been hoisted on it’s own petard.  At the end of the day, I’m just tired of the debate, on both sides.  There is too much misinformation and paranoia.  And again, it will not solve the problem.

Second…mental illness.  At the root of all evil is an inherent dysfunction of the psyche of the individual that perpetuates these horrific acts, and yet as a nation, we continue to place profits and personal gain ahead of the will to fund mental health issues.  And then little kids are slaughtered and we cry that taking God out of schools is the problem.  We, collectively, are suffering from a mental illness called delusion.  We continue to turn our heads at the polling place when we are asked to fund mental health research and treatment, but are completely willing to vote for no more taxes.  We have lost the political will to take the action that can actually treat the maladies that cause these pathologic social issues.  And they continue.  And we become numb to them.  Routine.

Finally…will.  We have an opportunity to mourn now and to feel the pain at our core that another human being could so mercilessly gun down children and the immensely brave adults that lost their lives trying to save them.  We have the opportunity to cry and feel shame.  Shame that we have for so long turned our backs on these children and brave adults by forgoing the will to do the right things and make the hard financial decisions.  Now is the time.  If we do not act, these tragedies will become more frequent and more horrific.  That is not prognostication, that is fate.  Fate that we are creating through our numbness…through our own lack of will…through our commitment to the routine…


My Gun is Your ’65 Mustang….

Blued Colt Python

There is something about a firearm that evokes the frontier spirit in my soul; the Colt revolver or the Winchester rifle that conquered the West.  My inner “man” identifies with the notion of teaching my son how to safely and properly use a gun. It’s a rite of passage in our country and one that I hope never ends.

In my view, firearms…guns…are works of art. The photo accompanying this blog is an example of form meeting function in a way that appeals to the eye. Granted, if your life has been horribly affected by guns, the beauty of the object is not seen.  And therein lays the dichotomy. At what point do we personalize the gun?  Is it an inanimate object or is it a living organism, capable of wreaking havoc in our society?

As clichés go, I find this one pertinent to the discussion: “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. This should be self-evident, but clearly it is not. Politicians routinely invoke the human qualities of evil in firearms to suit their political needs.  The term “Assault” weapon is a prime example. In California, a weapon is classified as an “Assault” weapon simply by the addition of a handle in some cases. Yes, the handle protruding from the bottom of the stock has somehow turned this tool, this instrument, into an adjective…into an “Assault” weapon. The spin is ridiculous yet we have accepted it as fact without argument.

I am sensitive to the destruction carried out by these tools by individuals either innately evil or mentally ill.  But let’s be clear. The weapon did not commit the crime, the individual did. I am not aware of any case in history, where an inanimate object committed a crime…or a homicide.  Responsible gun ownership and handling eliminates the danger. We do not allow 3 year-old’s to drive cars. We should not allow irresponsible people to own guns…or criminals.  How that is ultimately accomplished does not diminish the fact that a gun is a tool. It does not have feelings or prejudices.  It is not alive.

I submit that until we stop the labeling nonsense we will never get a handle on reasonable gun laws or effective punishments for criminals.

Yes, I know that a mass murderer is much more likely to kill effectively with a gun then with a knife…but I respond by asking you what tool was used to kill so many in the biggest mass murder in our history, 9/11?  And what damage does an automobile do when its crazed driver plows through a crowd; or the fundamentalist suicide bomber strapped to the teeth with explosives?

I am a firm supporter and believer in the second amendment. I am also a registered Democrat and a former (see a previous post) member of the N.R.A.  I believe that as a law-abiding, responsible citizen, I have an inherent right to protect my family. As such, until my government can guarantee that firearms will not fall into the possession of criminals and my local sheriff’s department will guarantee a ten second response time to my 911 call, that I have a responsibility…to responsibly protect myself and my family. It’s really just that simple.

I love guns…I am not going to apologize for that.  I will ask those of you who think that’s a crazy statement to consider my argument.  Is it any different than saying “I love ’65 Mustangs”? Both are inanimate objects capable of mass murder.

All I’m asking for is some common sense in a debate sorely lacking any…

 

 


N.R.A., NASCAR…and Donkey’s

Up until four years ago, I was a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association.  I fully support the second amendment (covered ad nauseam in an upcoming post) and wished to support the N.R.A.’s efforts to continue this fight.  Up until four years ago.

One of the cool things about being an N.R.A. member is that you receive swag in the mail…sweet hats, nice bags and a free subscription to American Rifleman.  If you’re a gun geek like me, this stuff was a great byproduct of my membership.  Up until four years ago.  Up until I started receiving mailings from them describing a horrible person who was going to sneak into my house in the middle of the night and steal my guns…and worse if I didn’t renew my membership.

Of course they were referring to that evil despot, Barack Hussein Obama.  That fascist, non-citizen intent on destroying everything that our founding father’s fought for.  Minor detail, but they were talking about the man I loved…the man who held the key to hope for the next four-years, in my mind.  Disappointment was the order of the day when I realized no more cool swag would be coming my way as I vowed to never renew my membership.  The hateful tone and mean-spirited level of rhetoric was too much…I still am an ardent supporter of gun rights…I’ll just have to hope that more moderate factions lead the way in the future.

And this leaves NASCAR.  As a democrat (registered, but willing to consider any other pragmatic options…friends with benefits with another party is on my radar) and an enthusiastic auto racing fan…my life is oftentimes uncomfortable.  The driver with whom I live and die will tweet a sarcastic shot at the President or endorse the Republican candidate; who by the by will be making an appearance at this week’s race at Richmond.

The most conflicting incident however was when Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden were roundly booed at a NASCAR race.  There wasn’t a place low enough that I could crawl as a liberal when that occurred.

What does this all mean?  We are not bot’s.  We are all complex political and cultural beings who embrace sometimes conflicting values and cultures.  Are there Republican’s out there who secretly watch the Daily Show?  If enough of us cross this line, maybe there is the beginnings of compromise and dialogue.  Maybe we can begin to end the culture of hate, immaturity and name-calling that define EACH party.  Maybe we can all just get along…


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