Tag Archives: NRA

FYI: Retirement funds, pensions, and educational savings plans invested in gun manufacturing?

First, please read the June 2016 article from Mother Jones which describes the ownership of the gun manufacturers who, in turn, direct the agenda of the National Rifle Association.   And now for some financial information:

Sturm Ruger and CompanyNASDAQ reports the company is 88.79% owned by institutional investors. The top five institutional investors are Black Rock (2,948,467 shares), Vanguard (1,659,697 shares), Capital World Investors (1,490,248), London Company of Virginia (1,355,076 shares), Voya Investment Management (777,224 shares)

Blackrock offers college savings plans, retirement investment plans, factor investing, and ironically “sustainable” investment programs.  Vanguard advertises its IRA accounts, retirement savings accounts, and pension plans.  Capital World Investors manages equity and mutual funds for its investors.  The London Company of Virginia is reported as “The London Company of Virginia, LLC is an employee owned investment manager. The firm primarily provides its services to individuals. It also provide its services high net worth individuals, investment companies, pension and profit sharing plans, charitable organizations, foundations, State or municipal government entities, and corporations.”  Voya Investment Management advertises its mutual funds for its investors.  The firm primarily serves insurance companies. [Bloomberg]

American Outdoor Brands (formerly Smith and Wesson) includes Smith & Wesson, Gemtech Suppressors, Crimson Trace, and accessories. It is 74.96% institutionally owned. The top institutional investors are Blackrock (6,012,767), Invesco Ltd (4,858,400), Vanguard (4,508,410), LSV Management (2,148,948), Dimensional Fund Advisors (1,774,780), Voya Investment Management (1,655,896) as of December 31, 2017. [NASDAQ]  LSV Management provides investment services to corporate pension and profit sharing plans. [Bloomberg] Dimensional Fund Advisors offers a variety of funds for its investors, most recently noticed for increasing its position in Chevron. [LG]

Remington Outdoor Company is owned by Cerberus Capital Management.  Cerberus advertises its $30 billion under management. [Cerb]   The firm recently drew the attention of Bloomberg News in an article by Joe Nocera, “Cerberus, Guns, and the Legacy of Newtown.” [BN 3/14/18] (Highly recommended reading)

“What Cerberus did right, again in a business sense, was market guns, especially the AR-15. Feinberg helped popularize assault weapons, making them a must-have purchase for a certain kind of gun owner.

The first gun company to make an AR-15 was Armalite in the early 1960s, but it took over three decades for the gun to become a major factor in the business. Only when the culture of hunting began to be eclipsed by a more militaristic gun culture did the AR-15 become popular. At least part of this was due to gun advertising, which stressed both militarization and masculinity.

And no company took this advertising as far as Remington Outdoor. In 2010, it began an ad campaign that showed a picture of a Bushmaster XM-15 in a shooting position. The headline read: “Consider Your Man Card Reissued.” Another ad had the headline, “Forces of Opposition, Bow Down,” with a picture of an AR-15. Remington called one of its guns the Remington ACR — for Adaptive Combat Rifle.”

SIG Sauer is a privately held German firm, with SIG Sauer, Inc as its American branch. It’s been most recently in the news for securing a nearly $600 contract with the US Department of Defense to replace the M9 handguns.

Conclusions?  It’s a bit unsettling to consider that the pension plan into which a person might be investing in order to avoid being a burden on one’s children, is the same plan investing in the weapons used to lethal effect on those children?  Or, that the college savings plan might be tragically unnecessary should a child be killed by one of the products manufactured by the gun industry, supported by mutual fund investment companies?

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Filed under Gun Issues, Politics

Caveat Emptor

Once upon a time there was a POTUS* who said he was bound and determined to enact tax breaks for the middle class,  the result was a tax bill in which 80% of the breaks went to corporations and income earners in the top 1%.  Then he said he wanted a solution to the DACA problem, a problem he created, he wanted a bill with “heart.” He said he’d sign a bipartisan bill, but when the bill arrived he pulled a “Lucy with the football” moment and the notion that he would take the heat evaporated.

He said he would never cut Social Security and Medicare, but then supported a tax scheme and budget which both require cuts in order to mitigate the horrific debts incurred by those proposals.

So now he wants to “do something” to make schools safer. However, what he wants are hardened targets and more guns in schools, the same old stale NRA litany.

There’s an interesting point coming from the assault weapon apologists. They can’t really rely on the constitutionality of AR 15, Justice Scalia was clear on that in the Heller decision. So now the NRA has moved to the “defend the 2nd Amendment” in general.  From whom or what?

Today it was from those evil Socialists. The rhetoric was redolent of those good old days when the Red Ruskies were the Cold War bete noir.    From the incompetence of the FBI. That would be the same FBI the counter terrorism section of which told the POTUS* the real Russians had interfered in the 2016 election.  From the incompetence of the local police, whether or not the local law enforcement agencies had statutory authorization to detain persons under the pertinent conditions.  From the mental health authorities, under staffed and underfunded as they are. Mental health is always a reliable pivot from the question of how the 3% of those mentally ill individuals who are inclined to violence are able to easily obtain weapons of war.

What the NRA and the putative POTUS* seem not to pronounce no matter how long their speeches is the word g-u-n, Gun. Guns. Gun. From the old Scandinavian word gunnhildr, becoming the Middle English word gunne.  Seriously ill people can acquire guns, one did at Virginia Tech,.  The disengaged can get them, witness Columbine. The white supremacist can get them, witness Charleston.  From Sandy Hook elementary to Aurora, to Pulse, to the Las Vegas concert, to the latest atrocity in Parkland it’s the gun that does the damage.

While the NRA plays it’s culture war games, the young people of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have a message, reminiscent of Elie Weisel’s call “Never Again.”

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Rule: It is never productive to argue with idiots.

When teenagers — a subset of American humanity often associated with pleas for automobiles, electronic toys, and strange clothing — are making 100% more sense than adults in the wake of the tragedy in Parkland, FL, then it’s time to remind myself that it is never productive to argue with morons — especially adult morons.

There is no reasoning with adults who say things like: “Gun controllers have the wrong end of the stick…you can murder people with a pencil.”  Granted. Now, when it becomes technically possible to murder 58 people at a music concert, or 17 students and teachers in a school, in the space of a few minutes, with a pencil you can bet your next paycheck I’ll post an impassioned plea for pencil control.  There’s no reasoning with whack jobs who express this kind of idiocy.

I apologize to morons and idiots everywhere because there has to be a lower level of intelligence to explain someone saying, “I have a Constitutional Right to my firearms.” Yes, but there are no unlimited rights.  That is what grownups would call “license.”  Question: Would you, oh absolutist advocate for the 2nd Amendment, like for me to post flyers around your neighborhood falsely accusing you of child molestation? Because it’s my 1st Amendment right to “express myself?”  Would you have a problem if I captured your spouse, hauled the victim to the top of a pyramid and performed a human sacrifice in the name of Freedom of Religion?  For heaven’s sake why do we even listen to these people?

Forgive me if I smirk when someone argues that the 2nd Amendment underpins all the others.  Smirking is what I might do instead of outright breaking into uncontrollable giggles at your fundamental misinterpretation of some relatively simple language.  What prevents governments by grown ups from engaging in nefarious practices isn’t the 2nd Amendment, it’s the 1st.  It’s the freedom of speech which gives voice to opposition views; it’s the freedom of the press which amplifies those ideas.  No one needed a gun to find out that 13 Russians and 3 Russian corporations interfered in the US election season in 2016.  We have a perfectly good squad of investigators and an equally competent group of journalists to tell us what’s going on. No rifles required. ;

If you feel you need an AR-15 to guard your property you must have a heck of a lot more property than Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos, and the Sultan of Brunei combined.  Many families make do with a dog. ($32 to bail one out of the county pound) Other families purchase home security systems.  More expensive than a dog, but also perfectly serviceable.  If you must have a gun — why not a good old fashioned 10 or 12 gauge shotgun? They are just as effective and don’t usually require you replace a wall in your home after use.  Only a resolute fool would replace a dog, a home security system, or a shot gun with a semi-automatic weapon of war.

So, I’m just going to leave this here.  I’ll talk with people who ask questions like: How can we best mitigate the lethality of shooting in public spaces?  I’ll listen to people who ask how we can preserve responsible hunting practices and activities while regulating the proliferation of weapons of war.  I’m happy to discuss common sense gun regulation with those who enjoy target and trap shooting, and who also want their children to be safe at school, at a music concert, or in a church.  However, I will not waste my time — and I certainly will NOT waste my vote — on fools who make idiots and morons sound like Einstein.



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Filed under Gun Issues, Politics

Enough Again and Again

I’ve heard all the excuses, repeated endlessly, by people doing the bidding of the Merchants of Death.

We can’t have universal background checks because that would be a violation of our liberty.

17 more people are dead in Parkland, Florida because someone used an assault style rifle.

We can’t enact a ban on bump stocks and other modifying elements to make rifles more lethal because we can’t exactly specify what modification meet the technical definitions (written by industry lobbyists and captured agencies.)

17 more people are dead in Parkland, Florida because someone used an assault style rifle.

We can’t prevent individuals on the terrorist watch list from obtaining firearms because the list isn’t perfect and some person might not be able to purchase a gun immediately.

17 more people are dead in Parkland, Florida because someone used an assault style rifle.

We can’t ban assault style rifles because they are a very popular gun, and banning them will only make them more desirable.

17 more people are dead in Parkland, Florida because someone used an assault style rifle.

We can’t enact more stringent laws about preventing those convicted of domestic violence from procuring firearms because that would endanger our liberties.

17 more people are dead in Parkland, Florida because someone used an assault style rifle.

We can’t enact gun regulations to meet the current epidemic of gun violence because no law will prevent all the kinds of violent incidents.

17 more people are dead in Parkland, Florida because someone used an assault style rifle.

We can’t prevent gun violence because the main cause is mental illness, and we should address that issue. (Albeit without funding, without CDC research, and without noticing that other countries have disaffected people with emotional and psychological issues and they don’t have the miserable statistics we do.)

17 more people are dead in Parkland, Florida because someone used an assault style rifle.

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A Simple Message

I put this on Twitter yesterday, but just for reference I’ll repeat it here in a slightly longer form:

Dear Candidate,

I intend to vote in the 2018 elections.  Please know that if you accept money from the NRA, the Shooting Sports Foundation, Safari Club, Gun Owners of America, etc. I will vote for your opponent, even if you are running against a Muppet.



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What’s under the underside? Illegal campaign contributions?

Tracking money and contributions in the wake of Citizens United is difficult, especially given the Super PAC swampland, but as long as we’re speculating about what could be driving the Republican opposition to the Mueller investigation, and associated assaults on the CIA and FBI, let’s add violations of campaign finance laws.

 “The Federal Election Campaign Act states in unambiguous terms that any contribution by a foreign national to the campaign of an American candidate for any election, state or national, is illegal. Likewise, anyone who receives, solicits, or accepts these contributions also violates the statute. Foreign national, in this case, means anybody not a US citizen that doesn’t have a green card.”  [UKedu]

Indeed, 52 US Code 30121 is rather specific:

(a) Prohibition  It shall be unlawful for—
(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—
(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;
(B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or
(C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or
(2) a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.

Again, the caveat, I’m no counselor, solicitor, lawyer, attorney, or any other synonym for a legal eagle, but it seems to me that a campaign cannot accept or solicit a “donation of money or anything of value” from a foreign national.  And, now we come to the filtration system.

For example, there are questions about NRA donations during the 2016 election season.  On February 2, 2018 it was reported that Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) requested documents from the Treasury Department and the NRA concerning possible (or alleged) contributions from Russians to the National Rifle Association. [APN] The same day, PBS posted:

“News reports last month said the FBI is investigating contact between Alexander Torshin, who is the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin, and the NRA. Wyden is ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, as well as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting a probe into Russia election meddling.”

It would be highly irregular, if not downright illegal under 52 US Code 30121, to have money funneled from the Russian central bank to the NRA for the benefit of Republican candidates, including the campaign for the presidency.  The major reporting on this element of ongoing investigations came from McClatchy DC:

“Disclosure of the Torshin investigation signals a new dimension in the 18-month-old FBI probe of Russia’s interference. McClatchy reported a year ago that a multi-agency U.S. law enforcement and counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s intervention, begun even before the start of the 2016 general election campaign, initially included a focus on whether the Kremlin secretly helped fund efforts to boost Trump, but little has been said about that possibility in recent months.

The extent to which the FBI has evidence of money flowing from Torshin to the NRA, or of the NRA’s participation in the transfer of funds, could not be learned.”

Once more the reticence (and rectitude) of the Mueller investigation precludes the unauthorized release of information regarding ongoing probes. However, we do know that Mr. Torshin’s contributions, whatever they might be, are of interest to investigators.  Nor do we know if there are other contributions or “in kind” donations from other sources under scrutiny.  There may, or may not, be revelations coming from final reports from the Special Counsel.

Another example, … that infamous Trump Tower meeting on June 9, 2016.  Of all the possible violations of campaign finance rules this has been the most visible, in no small part because of the misleading (perhaps obstructionist) statement drafted and released by the administration concerning the principals in the meeting and its purpose.  And, no it wasn’t about ‘Russian Orphans’ unless of course one is speaking of the Russian retaliation for the Magnitsky Act.  One theory holds that opposition research is a valuable commodity, one of those “other things of value” under the terms of 52 US Code 20121, therefore if the Trump Campaign accepted purloined e-mails or the fruits of other opposition research against the Clinton Campaign from the Russians, then it has accepted unlawful contributions for foreign nationals.

The story ‘broke’ on July 8, 2017 in the New York Times, and has continued to inform the public discussion, even if the Mueller probe has possibly long finished with this component. CNN provides a handy timeline on the subject.

Once more, I think it’s important to note that we do not know what the Mueller investigation is placing under its microscope, these two publicized examples may be the only elements of campaign finance law violations about which questions have been raised, or there may be other shoes dropping.  Patience is required as the investigation continues toward its conclusion.

What we do know is that the administration is expending a significant amount of time and energy (not to mention political capital) trying to tamp down discussion of these possible violations, and questioning the motives underpinning the investigations.  Frankly speaking, if there’s “no there there” (Thank You Gertrude Stein for this enduring phrase for all occasions) then the question becomes WHY all this exertion?

And yes, come for the Obstruction of Justice, and stay for the possible violations of US campaign finance laws.

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Filed under campaign funds, Citizens United, Politics

Scary Stuff Indeed

Yesterday was an extremely interesting day, replete with all manner of scary stuff compliments of social media platforms and a Special Counsel. However, not all of the frightening items were associated with the Trump Campaign’s eagerness to get the produce of Russian hacking, and Russian assistance.  Here’s some other stuff in the GOP treat basket:

ICE again proves its ultimate heartlessness and horrifying lack of understanding of what it means to “protect” Americans; illustrated by the case of Rosa Maria Hernandez — a ten year old with cerebral palsy undergoing gall bladder surgery.  And, this isn’t the only case — there was the story of parents arrested while their child was having brain surgery, the arrest of an undocumented Iraqi man who was serving as a bone marrow donor for his niece, and a brain tumor patient pulled from a hospital.  ICE thus becomes the ultimate Halloween Scary Story.  Candidates for public office ought to be ask outright how they would assist in the process of getting immigration officials to adhere to their own guidelines on “sensitive locations.’

Nobody in the GOP appears to be all that outraged that the Trump Campaign not only accepted assistance from the Russians, but actively sought to get the goods on Secretary Clinton from Russian sources.  This isn’t normal, or even paranormal — it’s the kind of thing that would make any other campaign (Democratic or Republican) call the FBI if the Russians showed up at the door with treats.  But still, #45 refuses to accept the fact that the Russians at least meddled and at most attacked the US with campaign “assistance” — social media help; opposition research; and, (the part we keep ignoring) attempts to hack into the voting systems of at least 21 and possibly 39 states.  We do need much more attention paid to the last item on the list since the Cult-45 group persists in saying this is a Spook, there’s nothing to see here.

Somehow a tiny company in Montana got a whopper contract, now cancelled, to supply power to the entire island of Puerto Rico.  Nothing puts a place like Whitefish, Montana on the map like having the Secretary of the interior stammering he’s nothing to do with this — and if I believe this then you could easily get me to believe that all the little spookies at the door are Real!

It’s been 30 days since the tragic Las Vegas Shooting, and what has the Congress done to limit high capacity magazines? Bump stocks? Anything?  This month has been a nightmare for the families of the deceased, and the families of the injured.  The nightmare will continue until politicians stop being terrified of the National Rifle Association.

Republicans have been unable to explain away the specter of Opioid Abuse while cutting massive amounts of funding from Medicaid.  The GOP budget calls for cutting some $1.5 trillion from the program over the next decade — while 30% of opioid treatment is covered by Medicaid insurance.   States, already strapped by the crisis will have to either come up with more funding or ration care — speaking of Death Panels…

The Senate of the United States believes that individual Americans are perfectly capable of taking on The Big Banks all by themselves — Super Heroes in Litigation.  So, on October 24, 2017 the Senate voted to dismiss a CFPB rule that would have allowed class action law suits against the Big Banks by ripped off customers; forcing those customers into individual arbitration.  Senator Dean Heller was pleased to vote in favor of this nightmare.

This list seems long enough to send sentient beings into the closet for the Halloween Season, one almost shudders to think what more the Republicans have in mind — like the tax cuts for the 1% and questionable benefits for the rest of the population…

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Filed under anti-immigration, Gun Issues, Immigration, Medicaid, Politics