Myth & Lesson; Shooting the NRA’s Red Herrings Right Between the Eyes

red herring

I used to publish this essay every time there was a mass shooting in our country.  But there are now too many to do that. This was originally written after the Orlando nightclub shooting.

I grew up in a gun-loving part of the country. I received my first gun as a teen, from my mom as a Christmas present, which is quite typical where I come from. By the time I was 18 I owned 4 guns. Also typical. Coming from the heartland, I fully understand why people like guns. Now that I’ve spent over 30 years in one of the largest and most violent cities in the country (Los Angeles) I also understand why our country needs far more restrictions on who can get a gun. These POV’s seem contradictory at first glance, but both are rational. You can be pro 2nd Amendment, and still think that guns should be carefully regulated like other deadly weapons. Most Americans still don’t understand why the gun situation is so different here than it is in every other country.

The reason it is so much easier to get a gun in the U.S. than in any other developed country, is because of the political pressure the NRA puts on Congress. If any congressman or congresswoman dares to vote on any gun restriction whatsoever, the NRA rallies votes and often gets them kicked out of office. And the NRA has enough red state voter members to have ended many a politician’s career. So the NRA is feared by Congress. The NRA has successfully convinced red state voters, and thus their intimidated elected members of Congress, to fight ANY gun regulations, no matter how sensible they may be. The NRA is not only standing in the way of progress in making our streets safer, but they are aggressively working to loosen gun regulations even further, regardless of the violent impact to our citizens. In February the NRA pushed to reverse the regulation that helped prevent mentally ill people from buying guns. The NRA was pushing a congressional vote scheduled for this very week to make silencers legal (they’ve been illegal since the gangster days of the 1930’s), but the vote was quietly postponed after the Vegas massacre.

The most maddening thing about the NRA’s arguments is that they are all so very paper-thin. The entire NRA argument is built upon the false premise that the 2nd Amendment is about to be overturned and ll guns are about to be outlawed. That is silly to anyone who understands how our system works. It is a merely a fake manufactured lie from the NRA to scare naïve rural voters. Not one single NRA talking point holds up to logic. Not one! I have friends who have repeated these talking points verbatim from the NRA, but they can’t support their arguments with reason, because they are simply not reasonable. Here are some of the myths the NRA has created over the past few decades, all of which are easily rebuked with common sense.

NRA Myth #1- If we make any gun regulations whatsoever, it means the government is going to come to your home and take your guns away. That is crazy. We can’t even take over Puerto Rico. And it’s our island! Our government is not capable of going door to door and confiscating guns, even if they wanted to. The NRA said Obama was going to take your guns even though he said repeatedly that he defended the 2nd Amendment while wanting common sense regulations to make us safer. Obama’s ATF agents never came knocking at your door. Did they? No, they didn’t. And they had 8 full years to do it and some of that time was with a Democratic congress. That was never gong to happen and never will. This is simply the NRA ginning up fear in others.

NRA Myth #2- The 2nd Amendment trumps all other rights and means no limits can be put on gun ownership. Uh, no! The 1st Amendment gives us the right to free speech, but the Supreme Court has put limits on that over the years; you can’t make threats or yell FIRE in a crowded theatre, for instance. Your right to carry a gun into a daycare center should not trump my right to have my kid in a safe place without guns. In most states, gun owners’ rights currently DO trump the rights of those who don’t like guns, but that is only because of the perverse work of the NRA and [mostly] Republicans in congress. It shouldn’t be that way in an open democratic country, and isn’t the case in any other developed nation because most other nations regulate guns as deadly weapons.

NRA Myth #3- The 2nd Amendment guarantees that anyone can get a gun without a waiting period, without a background check, anytime they want. No. The 2nd Amendment says nothing about convenience in buying a gun. Gun laws, background checks, waiting periods, are not in any way in conflict with the 2nd Amendment. Buying a gun should be harder than getting a driver’s license or voting. Guns are deadly weapons and there should be stringent rules about who owns them. It’s just common sense.

NRA Myth #4- I am part of a “well-regulated militia”. No matter how many guns you own or whether you and your friends like to dress up in camouflage and play war games in the woods behind your house on weekends, only the states and military have genuine regulated militias. Private groups are not well regulated militias, no matter how much they hate the government.

NRA Myth #5- Now is not the time to discuss gun laws. Nonsense. It is always the time to make our streets and schools safer. And there’s no more logical time than in the wake of mass shootings, which are now a regular occurrence. This is a nothing more than a diversionary NRA smoke screen, which gives cover to cowardly politicians. Mitch McConnell probably has this line tattooed on his forearm. Don’t be quieted by the feigned outrage of the right.

NRA Myth #6- The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Law Enforcement absolutely hates the idea of citizens carrying guns. It hurts law enforcement. Why would we not listen to the experts? This is not science afterall. Law enforcement really does have expertise in this area. And just imagine how things would have been worse in Vegas had civilians started shooting back. More civilians would have been shot and the shooter wouldn’t have been stopped. Let the cops do the jobs they’re trained for.

NRA Myth #7- Enforce the laws on the books. Congress and state legislatures exist to make new laws. That’s what they’re for. This argument isn’t made for drunk driving, or any other area of public safety. New laws continue to be made about every issue in every state house. The notion that we should stop making laws until every other law about that issue is completely enforced is ludicrous. But still the NRA says that we have made enough gun laws and shouldn’t make any more new ones until all of the existing laws are 100% enforced. Ridiculous. That’s just not how our system works… about anything.

NRA Myth #8- Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. As my friend Spike Dolomite Ward recently pointed out… with that logic, nuclear bombs don’t kill people either. Nor does Anthrax, it’s just powder, it’s people that use anthrax to kill people, but it’s got nothing to do with Anthrax. Silly argument. Guns are weapons, which are made for the purpose of killing. Even is you don’t see your gun as a deadly weapon because you just like to collect them, it is still made for the purpose of killing. Nobody ever got their head blown off by a stamp collection.

NRA Myth #9- There are too many guns in the U.S. to ever be able to reduce those numbers, and criminals aren’t going to give up their guns, so why even try? There are about 300 million guns in the U.S., and about 1/3 of American households own a gun. But a small percentage own most of all guns in America. Australia greatly reduced their gun numbers. It can be done. But don’t be fooled by this one, the fact that criminals aren’t giving up their guns is another red herring because nobody is asking every American to give up all their guns. You will always be able to have a gun to defend yourself against the criminal in your home. But that does not negate the need for reasonable gun control laws, background checks for everybody, banning assault rifles and high capacity magazines, etc.

NRA Myth #10-There’s no correlation between mass shootings in America and our gun laws. This is one of the silliest myths. We are the ONLY developed nation in the world with this level of gun violence. Of course it is because anyone can easily buy as many guns as they desire, without even a background check. That’s just a no-brainer. Our lax gun laws have everything to do with the catastrophic level of gun violence in the U.S. To say these things have nothing to do with each other is simply illogical.

NRA Myth #11- The Government can’t tell me what to do! Yes they can. And they already do. That’s what governments do. They set speed limits, they decide how many people you can marry, and what constitutes thievery and murder. Every government makes laws that tell their people what they are allowed and not allowed to do. That’s government. And our system says that if you don’t follow the laws, you will be prosecuted by our legal system. Pretty straight forward.

NRA Myth #12- Liberals don’t want me to protect my family. NOBODY is going to overturn the 2nd Amendment in this country. Ever. Yes, some liberals would love it if we could wave a magic wand and be a gun-free country. But it’s a silly red herring in the real gun debate. So let this stupid talking point go! It’s part of our Constitution and you will always have the right to have a gun for your family’s safety. But that doesn’t mean you must be able to go buy an assault rifle and 1,000 rounds of ammo without a background check from a stranger in a parking lot at a gun show.

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There’s Hope in Dicks (not Hicks)

gunmeeting

This week I have hope. Not that Hope. Not Hope Hicks, but hope in Dick’s! I am perhaps the only person who has not actually had Hope Hicks. But millions of people this week got hope from Dick’s. And oddly enough, I got some hope this week from The Moron himself. That’s right. What renewed just a sliver of hope in my government this week is that Trump’s absurd dog and pony show on gun control demonstrated that he is so wildly dysfunctional that he might just be crazy enough to break the gun gridlock that has had all of us in its sights for the last few decades. He’s stupid enough that he might just be able to get something positive done in this one area because he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He’s so desperate for approval that he will turn his back on his allies (NRA) if he thinks it’s popular in the moment. We’ve never had anyone willing to abandon his side on gun control. And because he has absolutely no real values of his own, his finger in the wind is his guide. And the gun control winds are definitely blowing against Republicans and the NRA for the first time since the 90’s.

This week’s televised meeting of Trump with a bi-partisan congressional group demonstrated his ability to swing wildly, even to the left of the leftiest. When he suggested that we scrap due process and just take guns away from anyone suspected of mental illness, even the liberalist jaws at the huge table dropped. Same thing happened when he swung far to the right by sticking to his guns on arming teachers yet again. What was clear was that he was merely swinging from the hip to score points, moment to moment, with the possibility that this moment will cancel out the progress made in the last moment. Even as he boasted about not caring about being popular, it was so evident that he’d say anything to be popular in the now. Anything! It was pointed out by Senator Murphy that the president does not understand the true chokehold the NRA has on congress when he asked why nothing was done even after the unconscionable massacre of children at Sandy Hook. Trump also showed that he doesn’t understand how congress works, with his kindergarten-like instructions on which senators should sit down and talk with one another, a process these veteran sausage-makers from both houses know far better than he. He did, however, demonstrate that he does understand that the proposed conceal/carry law would be a poison pill, although he probably wouldn’t like or understand that term, because he’s so anti-drug. Even if you think Trump to be sincere in this round robin meeting, you’d have to compare it to the previous version of this planned improvisation on DACA, when he demanded that Dreamers be treated with love. Then he retreated to his partisan playbook and turned his back on them without any of the aforementioned love. The Supreme Court is the only part of our government that has shown Dreamers any love.

But there is hope this time. There is more hope not because Trump has suddenly sprouted some integrity. Nope. Not because he now understands the proper way to get bi-partisan cooperation on the hill. Nope. There is hope because the lack of common sense gun laws in the U.S. has been so completely without logic for so long, that it has stymied the smartest minds in our country. It is the only issue where there is no rational argument for doing nothing to curtail our now daily hemorrhage of mass shootings. It has been brains against brawn, and brawn has been on top for as long as anyone can remember. For decades, the NRA has crazily prevented congress from any positive action whatsoever. Until now. Until Parkland. Until the children spoke. Until the kids from the drama department stood up to their state legislators and the country watched them turn their back on their own kids. And now that the public is finally demanding that this insanity be dealt with, the winds of change are gaining hurricane strength and bearing down on Florida. And this storm is so large that’s it’s effecting the entire country. These winds are pushing the biggest retailers, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart to change their own gun sales policies, and that is no small thing. These CEO’s are willing to face these category 3 winds which will surely cause some PR damage for them, even if it appeals to the majority of their customers.

Reason has failed us with regard to gun control again and again. The rest of the world sees the U.S. as completely insane about guns. Rational minds cannot look at the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, or the recent attack on Steve Scalise and other Republicans on the ball field, or the horror at Sandy Hook, or Orlando, or Vegas, or the church shootings in Texas and South Carolina… rational people could not look at these events and say we don’t have a gun problem. Insanity has dictated how we choose to handle deadly weapons on our country. And the only thing that might have a chance to shake that up, is even MORE INSANITY! He’s crazier than the NRA. And that is a cause for hope. So even while one Hope is leaving the white house with her white lies in her stylish pockets, the real hope is that Covfefe’s level of crazy will trump the NRA’s. This is just crazy enough to work. Maybe.

Myth & Lesson; shooting the NRA’s red herrings right between the eyes

red herring

This essay was originally posted in 2017, but I’m reposting it in response to the latest mass shooting. Sadly, these points haven’t changed in the last year and this is still relevant today. 

I grew up in a gun-loving part of the country. As a teen I received my first gun from my mom as a Christmas present, which is quite typical where I come from. By the time I was 18 I owned 4 guns. Also typical. Coming from the heartland, I fully understand why people like guns. Now that I’ve spent over 30 years in one of the largest and most violent cities in the country (Los Angeles) I also understand why our country needs far more restrictions on who can get a gun. These POV’s seem contradictory at first glance, but both are rational. You can be pro 2nd Amendment, and still think that guns should be carefully regulated like other deadly weapons. Most Americans still don’t understand why the gun situation is so different here than it is in every other country.

The reason it is so much easier to get a gun in the U.S. than in any other developed country, is because of the political pressure the NRA puts on Congress. If any congressman or congresswoman dares to vote on any gun restriction whatsoever, the NRA rallies votes and often gets them kicked out of office. And the NRA has enough red state voter members to have ended many a politician’s career. So the NRA is feared by Congress. The NRA has successfully convinced red state voters, and thus their intimidated elected members of Congress, to fight ANY gun regulations, no matter how sensible they may be. The NRA is not only standing in the way of progress in making our streets safer, but they are aggressively working to loosen gun regulations even further, regardless of the violent impact to our citizens. In February 2017 the NRA pushed to reverse the regulation that helped prevent mentally ill people from buying guns. The NRA was pushing a congressional vote scheduled  to make silencers legal (they’ve been illegal since the gangster days of the 1930’s), but the vote was quietly postponed after the Vegas massacre happened in the same week.

The most maddening thing about the NRA’s arguments is that they are all so very paper-thin. The entire NRA argument is built upon the false premise that the 2nd Amendment is about to be overturned and all guns are about to be outlawed. That is silly to anyone who understands how our system works. It is a merely a fake manufactured lie from the NRA to scare naïve rural voters. Not one single NRA talking point holds up to logic. Not one! I have friends who have repeated these talking points verbatim from the NRA, but they can’t support their arguments with reason, because they are simply not reasonable. Here are some of the myths the NRA has created over the past few decades, all of which are easily rebuked with common sense.

NRA Myth #1- If we make any gun regulations whatsoever, it means the government is going to come to your home and take your guns away. That is crazy. We can’t even take over Puerto Rico. And it’s our island! Our government is not capable of going door to door and confiscating guns, even if they wanted to. The NRA said Obama was going to take your guns even though he said repeatedly that he defended the 2nd Amendment while wanting common sense regulations to make us safer. Obama’s ATF agents never came knocking at your door. Did they? No, they didn’t. And they had 8 full years to do it and some of that time was with a Democratic congress. That was never going to happen and never will. This is simply the NRA ginning up fear in others. It’s nonsense.

NRA Myth #2- The 2nd Amendment trumps all other rights and means no limits can be put on gun ownership. Uh, no! The 1st Amendment gives us the right to free speech, but the Supreme Court has put limits on that over the years; you can’t make threats or yell FIRE in a crowded theatre, for instance. Your right to carry a gun into a daycare center should not trump my right to have my kid in a safe place without guns. In most states, gun owners’ rights currently DO trump the rights of those who don’t like guns, but that is only because of the perverse work of the NRA and [mostly] Republicans in congress. It shouldn’t be that way in an open democratic country, and isn’t the case in any other developed nations because most other nations regulate guns as deadly weapons.

NRA Myth #3- The 2nd Amendment guarantees that anyone can get a gun without a waiting period, without a background check, anytime they want. No. The 2nd Amendment says nothing about convenience in buying a gun. Gun laws, background checks, waiting periods, are not in any way in conflict with the 2nd Amendment. Buying a gun should be harder than getting a driver’s license or voting. Guns are deadly weapons and there should be stringent rules about who owns them. It’s just common sense.

NRA Myth #4- I am part of a “well-regulated militia”. No matter how many guns you own or whether you and your friends like to dress up in camouflage and play war games in the woods behind your house on weekends, only the states and military have genuine regulated militias. Private groups are not well regulated militias, no matter how much they hate the government.

NRA Myth #5- Now is not the time to discuss gun laws. Nonsense. It is always the time to make our streets and schools safer. And there’s no more logical time than in the wake of mass shootings, which are now a regular occurrence. This is a nothing more than a diversionary NRA smoke screen, which gives cover to cowardly politicians. Mitch McConnell probably has this line tattooed on his forearm. Don’t be quieted by the feigned outrage of the right.

NRA Myth #6- The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Law Enforcement absolutely hates the idea of citizens carrying guns. It hurts law enforcement. Why would we not listen to the experts? (This is not science afterall.) Law enforcement really does have expertise in this area. And just imagine how things would have been worse in Vegas had civilians started shooting back. More civilians would have been shot and the shooter wouldn’t have been stopped. Let the cops do the jobs they’re trained for.

NRA Myth #7- Enforce the laws on the books. Congress and state legislatures exist to make new laws. That’s what they’re for. This argument isn’t made for drunk driving, or any other area of public safety. New laws continue to be made about every issue in every state house. The notion that we should stop making laws until every other law about that issue is completely enforced is ludicrous. But still the NRA says that we have made enough gun laws and shouldn’t make any more new ones until all of the existing laws are 100% enforced. Ridiculous. That’s just not how our system works… about everything.

NRA Myth #8- Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. As my friend Spike Dolomite Ward recently pointed out… with that logic, nuclear bombs don’t kill people either. Nor does Anthrax, it’s just powder, it’s people that use anthrax to kill people, but it’s got nothing to do with Anthrax. Silly argument. Guns are weapons, which are made for the purpose of killing. Even if you don’t see your gun as a deadly weapon because you just like to collect them, it is still made for the purpose of killing. Nobody ever got their head blown off by a stamp collection.

NRA Myth #9- There are too many guns in the U.S. to ever be able to reduce those numbers, and criminals aren’t going to give up their guns, so why even try? There are about 300 million guns in the U.S., and about 1/3 of American households own a gun. But a small percentage own most of all guns in America. Australia greatly reduced their gun numbers. It can be done. But don’t be fooled by this one, the fact that criminals aren’t giving up their guns is another red herring because nobody is asking every American to give up all their guns. You will always be able to have a gun to defend yourself against the criminal in your home. But that does not negate the need for reasonable gun control laws, background checks for everybody, banning assault rifles and high capacity magazines, etc.

NRA Myth #10-There’s no correlation between mass shootings in America and our gun laws. This is one of the silliest myths. We are the ONLY developed nation in the world with this level of gun violence. Of course it is because anyone can easily buy as many guns as they desire, without even a background check. That’s just a no-brainer. Our lax gun laws have everything to do with the catastrophic level of gun violence in the U.S. To say these things have nothing to do with each other is simply illogical.

NRA Myth #11- The Government can’t tell me what to do! Yes they can. And they already do. That’s what governments do. They set speed limits, they decide how many people you can marry, and what constitutes theft and murder. Every government makes laws that tell their people what they are allowed and not allowed to do. That’s government. And our system says that if you don’t follow the laws, you will be prosecuted by our legal system. Pretty straight forward.

NRA Myth #12- Liberals don’t want me to protect my family. NOBODY is going to overturn the 2nd Amendment in this country. Ever. Yes, a few liberals would love it if we could wave a magic wand and be a gun-free country. But it’s a silly red herring in the real gun debate. So let this stupid talking point go! It’s part of our Constitution and you will always have the right to have a gun for your family’s safety. But that doesn’t mean you must be able to go buy an assault rifle and 1,000 rounds of ammo without a background check from a stranger in a parking lot at a gun show.