Voices in their heads, money in their pockets?

Assault RifleI come at this not as an elected official but as a parent,” he said. “My view is that we need to move from a culture of violence to a culture of safety.”  [Stephen Horsford, Representative Elect, (D-NV4) LVSun] Mr. Horsford supports an assault weapons ban.  Good for him.

Some other Nevada Representatives appear to be on “radio silence.”  Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2), he of the “NV2 Channel on You Tube” has posted nothing on the subject of banning assault rifles.  Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) has nothing new on his copious video collection either.   Republican Representatives seem to be more comfortable with those Telephone Town Halls, wherein the questioners are faceless friends who ask questions to which the recipient may drone on at length for the  session.  This guarantees the constituents will (1) probably not get a question answered during the session but will received a written response later, and (2) never have to face up to organized criticism of their policy positions.

We do have Representative  Amodei’s acceptance statement when the NRA endorsed him:

“Mark Amodei is a steadfast supporter of freedom. He earned the NRA-PVF endorsement because of his demonstrated support for our rights, including improvements to Nevada’s right-to-carry law; preventing gun confiscations during states of emergency; and protecting firearm manufacturers and dealers from bogus lawsuits,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of NRA-PVF. “His proven commitment to our Second Amendment rights and hunting heritage make Amodei the best choice for Nevada gun owners in this special election in Nevada’s 2nd congressional district.”

So we can be reasonably assured that Representative Amodei will not be voting to repeal the shield law for gun manufacturers which was enacted in October 2005, “aimed at ending a spate of lawsuits by individuals and municipalities, including New York City, seeking to hold gun manufacturers and dealers liable for negligence when their weapons are used in crimes.” [NYT]

Among the 283 members of Congress voting in favor of S. 397, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, were Representative James Gibbons (R-NV2), and Representative Jon Porter (R-NV3).   The law they voted for contained an exception, but one with an interesting twist.

While it bars such suits, the measure contains an exception allowing certain cases involving defective weapons or criminal behavior by a gun maker or dealer, such as knowingly selling a weapon to someone who has failed a criminal background check.” [NYT]  “Knowingly” is a high legal standard.  Further, there’s a Catch 22 involved.  If we have a significant Gun Show loophole, and about 40% of all gun sales are conducted without a background check, then no gun manufacturer can be held liable for any use of a firearm resulting in death or injury where no background check was conducted.

The NRA contributed $4,000 to Representative Amodei’s campaign in 2012.

Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV3) touts his 92% rating from the National Rifle Association, and his 83% rating from the Gun Owners of America.  It’s difficult to imagine his support for an expansion of gun registration, a ban on assault rifles, and comprehensive background checks for prospective gun buyers.

Heck’s rating from the Gun Owners of America indicates an appreciation for the GOA’s position:

“Larry Pratt. According to Pratt, the best way to protect people from mass shootings is to make sure more guns are allowed in more places. “Gun-free zones are like magnets for the monsters in our society,” Pratt told Mike Huckabee during a radio interview Monday. More guns, he argued, equal more safety.”  [HuffPo]

And then there was this response from the GOA  to the Newtown tragedy, issued on December 19, 2012:

“While the nation witnessed a real tragedy last week, the media continues to ignore the far greater number of kids who die by other means—like in cars or pools. Sadly, I know about this personally, as one of my children drowned a few years ago.

But just as I’m not going on a nation-wide campaign to ban access to pools, neither should Congress deny access to the very instruments that help good people stop violent thugs from killing children.”

In other words, the answer to gun violence is to put more guns on the streets, in the malls, on the highways, on the airplanes?  This, from an organization which posted this conspiracy theory on its website:

“A top communist defector is warning of an unprecedented “alliance” between the Democratic Party and the Communist Party, reflected in the CPUSA’s endorsement of Barack Obama for president in 2008 and the party’s continued support for Democratic Party policies. But is this warning going to be too hot to handle for the media? And the Republicans?

Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking official ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc, says in an article for PJMedia that any doubt that the Democratic and the Communist parties had secretly joined forces was erased in 2009, “when Van Jones, part of a left fringe of declared communists, became the White House’s green jobs czar.”

Obama aide Valerie Jarrett had disclosed at a left-wing bloggers convention that “we,” apparently referring to herself and President Obama, had hired Jones for the job. However, Jones was fired when an outcry developed over his communist background, and the media quickly dropped any probes into Jones’ White House contacts.”

OK, it doesn’t get much Looney Tunes wackier than this, but this organization did give Representative Heck an 83% rating.   Rep. Heck also accepted $2,500 from the National Rifle Association.

The grand prize winner for NRA contributions in Nevada is Senator Dean Heller, who accepted $6,950 from the organization, making him the 10th highest recipient of the NRA’s largess.  He also accepted $2,500 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and $7,000 from the “canned hunt” crowd at the Safari Club.  Senator Heller thus accepted a total of $16,450 from gun related organizations.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation website is still playing possum on the issues related to the massacre at Newtown, on behalf of the Firearms Industry Trade Association:

“We listened with careful attention to President Obama’s statement from the White House today. Being one of the “stakeholders” he discussed, we would welcome the opportunity at the appropriate time to become part of a full national conversation with all policy makers that has as its goal the improved protection of our children and our communities from future violence.”

In other words, “we listened,” now “we’re going to be very quiet until the waves of grief subside, and then we’ll lobby with a vengeance to make sure no meaningful legislation is enacted which might curtail any of our sales?”

Safety First?

Yes, I’d like to discuss ultra-violent video games — but those games are available on every continent.  Why is it our children must be protected from violent video games but not from individuals who purchase assault rifles without undergoing a thorough background check?

Yes, I do believe the broadcast media all too often glamorizes violence. However, these broadcasts are also nothing new on this planet, or exclusive to our society.  Why is it that only our children seem to be at risk?

Yes, I do think we definitely need to take better care of our citizens who suffer from mental illnesses.  Lord knows we need to apply more resources to research, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health problems.  However, this isn’t exclusive to this country either.   So what makes our schools such as Columbine, Platt County High School, Virginia Tech University, and Sandy Hook the object of attack?  And, no, it’s not the “magnetization of gun free zone.”

It is simply the easy access to guns which are too powerful to be used by anyone other than military personnel or law enforcement officers.  We have 5% of the world’s population and 50% of the world’s guns. That’s a recipe for more, not less, disasters.

A reasonable approach would be to ban assault weapons, require comprehensive background checks for all gun sales, and encourage more scientific research on the subject of gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control.  In short, I am a gun owner BUT the NRA doesn’t speak for me. Nor do Representatives Heck, Amodei, and Senator Heller on this subject.

Legislation to Save Lives

When might it be an appropriate time to discuss these proposals rationally?  When the financial sector collapsed in an avalanche of mismanagement we didn’t worry about “politicizing” the issues. We enacted new laws to protect our money.  Might we not take equal action to protect our children?

In the wake of 9/11 we didn’t “politicize” the issues; we enacted a Terrorist Watch List.  We reorganized the government to create the Department of Homeland Security.  We instituted increased security at airports. Why can’t we reorganize our government priorities to protect kids?

After the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis  we beefed up our  bridge safety protocols demanding better inspection, evaluation, and maintenance of gusset plates on truss bridges.  Why should we take substantive action which our kids aren’t traveling over bridges…but sitting in their classrooms?

NOW is the time to discuss school safety, but we’ll have a much more productive conversation if the voices we hear aren’t the voices in the heads of delusional radicals who have decided that in the event of some fictitious government takeover they are going to reenact the fantasies of their favorite cartoon action figures.

If our politicians are listening to these voices — we have an even larger problems.

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