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NRA-shaming

February 21, 2013

[My latest piece of work is on the short side. Mostly been reading today, not so much writing.]

I’ve heard of cat- and dog-shaming (not that cats have any identifiable sense of shame that I’ve observed). But the Vice President suggests a new type, as he continues to make the rounds and speak out in favor of the President’s gun control legislative proposals.

For years, the NRA has been all about grading and categorizing, shaming and running out of office, anyone who doesn’t toe their line on the free-fire zone they’ve created in this country. Biden’s passion sometimes misfires (get a shotgun!) but in this case I think he’s on to something. It’s time to fight back.

*****

So here’s the VP, speaking today in Connecticut, not far from Sandy Hook.

Vowing that there is “a moral price to be paid for inaction,” Biden sought to publicly shame lawmakers who are hesitant about voting for President Obama’s gun-control agenda.“I can’t imagine how we will be judged as a society if we do nothing,” Biden said. “If you’re concerned about your political survival, you should be concerned about the survival of our children. And guess what? I believe the price to be paid politically should go to those who refuse to act….The American people are with us.”

The Washington Post characterizes the speech as a rebuttal of NRA talking points, as well it should be. And Connecticut is a good place to go to speak out in favor of gun control legislation. Not just because of Sandy Hook or the united front of the state’s representatives in Congress. At the state level, they’re not waiting for Congress to act. Perhaps they anticipate Republicans in Congress refusing to act — taking the immoral position, in other words.

Meanwhile, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) unveiled measures Thursday that he said would toughen state gun laws. Malloy’s proposals include universal and comprehensive background checks for gun buyers, a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines and efforts to strengthen the state’s assault weapons ban.

Serving as the example for a catlike lack of shame, the NRA has of course dismissed all this grief and outrage as the “Connecticut effect,” and they eagerly await for the “process” to conclude, so that they can get back to their typical agenda of eliminating gun laws.

I’m thankful that Joe Biden and many others are working hard to keep this issue alive, in order to get something substantive done to reduce gun violence. And the NRA is losing its appeal among Democrats…sad to consider that it ever held much sway with us in the first place.

The National Rifle Association has become anathema to many Democratic voters. That’s especially true in the wake of the organization’s combative public relations campaign after the Newtown shootings, which included the NRA invoking President Barack Obama’s daughters in an advertisement attacking the president. According to last month’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, just 20 percent of Democrats had a favorable view of the NRA, versus 57 percent who had an unfavorable view. (That’s compared with 64 percent of Republicans and even 49 percent of independents who hold a favorable view of the organization.) In past Democratic primaries, an NRA endorsement was either a badge of honor or something that at least wasn’t viewed as a major liability. That may not be true anymore, at least in congressional districts like this one in Illinois.

It remains to be seen if we can move this sense of the NRA as anathema out of strong, blue, urban districts into rural areas. But the process of shaming the NRA and destroying its influence has to start somewhere. I’m hoping that this particular process won’t go the way of the NRA’s “Connecticut effect.”

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