Posts Tagged ‘Democrats’

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NRA’s support among gun advocates splintering over background checks

March 6, 2013

[…which may or may not be a result of my hammering away at them on almost a daily basis, but anyway, good news today. Set phasers to Infuriate the RKBA.]

Fringe, it’s not just a TV show

Today I am pleased to see that gun manufacturers, dealers, and gun rights groups are breaking with the NRA on background checks. Even better, Democrats are flipping the economic threat around on the gun industry, with big-city mayors and their budgets for guns and ammo looking for manufacturers that will work with them on legislation.

This is a promising turn of events. In some previous work I’ve documented gun manufacturers like Barrett Firearms Manufacturing punish law enforcement in California with a ban on sales in retaliation for California’s strict gun laws, and Magpul, which makes ammunition magazines and other gun ‘accessories,’ threaten to pull their manufacturing plant and hundreds of jobs out of Colorado if Democrats pass gun control legislation. And the NRA has orchestrated boycotts to punish anyone who steps out of line, so anyone breaking up the coalition now is asking for it.

And yet, they are, showing that NRA’s leadership is out of touch. Not only with vast majorities of Americans, Democrats, gun owners, and NRA members, but now, even gunmakers and gun rights advocates.

*****

History shows why the individual manufacturers, gun enthusiasts or gun rights groups have reason to fear the NRA; that is, when the rest of the industry is lined up behind them. In 2000, they turned on Smith & Wesson for signing an agreement with the Clinton administration. Since I’m no gun expert, I looked them up and I guess it was their .44 Magnum Model 29 featured in the old Clint Eastwood movies. He couldn’t save them from the NRA, I suppose.

May have been busy, yelling at a chair

In March 2000 Smith & Wesson was the only major gun manufacturer to sign an agreement with the Clinton Administration.[5] The company agreed to numerous safety and design standards as well as limits on the sale and distribution of its products. Gun clubs and gun rights groups responded to this agreement by initiating large-scale boycotts of Smith & Wesson by refusing to buy their new products and flooding the firearms market with used S&W guns.[5][6][7] After a 40% sales slide,[8] the sales impact from the boycotts led Smith & Wesson to suspend manufacturing at two plants.[9] The success of the boycott led to a Federal Trade Commission antitrust investigation’s being initiated under the Clinton administration,[7] targeting gun dealers and gun rights groups, which was subsequently dropped in 2003.[10] This agreement signed by Tomkins PLC ended with the sale of Smith & Wesson to the Saf-T-Hammer Corporation. The new company (Smith and Wesson Holding Corporation), which publicly renounced the agreement, was received positively by the firearms community.[11]

This agreement was intended to increase gun safety by mandating safety devices on their guns, such as gun locks. Also, among other things, it barred gun sales — including gun show sales — without a background check on the buyer. Interesting, eh? Following more links, I see that the Bush regime dropped the antitrust investigation and scrapped Clinton’s agreement, but for S&W the damage was done. Bush’s failure to investigate was summed up, perhaps with unintentional irony, by FTC spokeswoman Brenda Mack:

Thanks for nothing — as usual

“This does not mean that a violation did or did not occur, so the commission reserves its right to take action again in the future if necessary,” said Mack.

With that history in mind, it’s encouraging to witness these cracks in the monolith. Like a trade group for gun manufacturers breaking with the NRA over universal background checks.

“That’s more the NRA’s issue,” Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), said in an interview. “From the commercial side, we’re already there, and we’ve been there, and we were the ones that have been the strongest proponents of an effective, complete background check.”

The Washington Post reports that, behind the scenes, gunmakers, dealers, and gun advocates are expressing support for background checks. The NSSF president is a brave fellow for putting his support on the record. Hopefully the target on his back will be rhetorical only. But with the death threats gun control advocates and politicians are receiving, well…who knows.

And as gunmakers have tried their intimidation tactics on lawmakers, like Magpul in Colorado, it seems that some Democrats are putting their own economic leverage to use. Big-city mayors, after all, must spend quite a bit of money on firearms and ammunition for police departments.

“Our residents want to ensure that the tax dollars that are being used to purchase guns for our police departments are going to manufacturers that share our values and support our strategies,” Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, who leads the National Conference of Democratic Mayors, wrote in a letter to Glock and the NSSF.

The NRA has been against universal background checks from the beginning. Their executive VP Wayne LaPierre is on record, repeatedly, claiming these background checks will lead to gun registration — pointedly silent about the existing federal law his organization worked to pass that forbids any such registry at the federal level. The NRA’s lies were debunked by Mark Kelly in an op-ed at Politico at the end of February, and I spent some time digging into the details. Instead of the truth, they offer this lie by omission, along with threats of confiscation and false comparisons to Nazi Germany. In spite of this consistent message, even here I see folks trying to soften the NRA’s image. They challenge this simple reality that the NRA is out of touch, increasingly isolated in their opposition to universal background checks.

Not all of the NRA’s traditional allies share this sense of alarm. For example, the founder of the pro-gun Second Amendment Foundation tentatively backed a proposed compromise bill in Washington state last month that would expand checks while limiting state firearms record-keeping.In addition, the head of the nation’s largest police union, which was allied with the NRA in a major legislative battle in the past, has joined the movement for expanded background checks.

Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, said in an interview that he now supports extending checks to gun shows and other venues where they are not required.

The Washington Post article notes the negotiations underway in the Senate as another break with the demands of the NRA’s leadership, in that NRA-supported Republican Senators have agreed in general on expanding background checks. True enough. But the remaining sticking point — record keeping — shows that these Republicans seek a watered-down, toothless universal check. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), for example, who wants no record-keeping, in other words, no accountability, no enforcement.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-not-so-OK)

While the NRA’s extremism has managed to drive away some allies, on the issue of background checks it still has the support of at least one key legislator. The Huffington Post reports that Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin have been trying to hammer out a bipartisan deal, but they’ve still made no progress with Republican Senator Tom Coburn. For weeks, Coburn, who has an “A” rating from the NRA, has insisted that the legislation must not require records of private gun sales to be kept, since supposedly that’s the first step toward a national gun registry. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to consider several gun control bills on Thursday, so if Coburn doesn’t come around by then, Schumer may file his old background check bill as a placeholder. Getting the bill passed without the Republican senator’s assistance wouldn’t be impossible, but it’s not a good sign for what was supposed to be one of the easier gun control measures to get through Congress.

Tom Coburn may well be an intractable roadblock, but the Senate Judiciary Committee could all use a push on this issue, as some votes are supposed to take place tomorrow. One of the Senators on the committee, Jeff Flake, is from my state. Although I don’t expect this Republican to vote my way on this issue, I’m still making a point to contact him. Nothing but endless ringing at Flake’s office number this morning, so the NRA’s mobilization effort may already be underway, but I mean to try again.

Here are all of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee considering the background check law, among other gun control proposals. If any of these are your Senators, perhaps it’s worth a moment of your time to call them? The United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 can connect to any Senate office upon request.

Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman, D-Vermont Dianne Feinstein, D-California Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member, R-Iowa
Chuck Schumer, D-New York Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah Dick Durbin, D-Illinois
Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina
Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota John Cornyn, R-Texas Al Franken, D-Minnesota
Michael S. Lee, R-Utah Christopher A. Coons, D-Delaware Ted Cruz, R-Texas
Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut Jeff Flake, R-Arizona Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii
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More data on gun control policies even NRA members support

February 23, 2013

[This will probably wrap up my week of ranting about guns…I prefer to take a break on the weekend, and try to enjoy life a little before diving back into the suffering and despair that is gun violence news and debate. Maybe I’ll take some pictures of cats.]

Although I find the fixation on the NRA irksome at times — as if the NRA membership is the measure of what should and should not be law in this country concerning guns — it is interesting to peruse data on the level of popular support various ideas enjoy. While the NRA is quick to run its own alleged polls, to issue blanket statements and to spew much bluster, behind the curtain of propaganda, they are weaker than they will ever let on.

And, as can be found in polling data about 31 different gun policies, it’s also interesting to see what separates Democrats from the hardcore gun enthusiasts in the NRA.

*****

So, today I found this PBS article about what Democrats and the NRA have in common. This was research done by Johns Hopkins, or to be more precise the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I felt the need to investigate that name, as I expect anything with Bloomberg in it will immediately raise the hackles of most gun enthusiasts.

Originally named the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, the school was founded in 1916 by William H. Welch and John D. Rockefeller. The school was renamed the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health on April 20, 2001 in honor of Michael Bloomberg (founder of the eponymous media company) for his financial support and commitment to the school and Johns Hopkins University. Bloomberg has donated a total of $1.1 billion to the school over a period of several decades.[9]

America’s most dangerous mayor! ACK!

Does this mean that Bloomberg has bought the university’s reputation and twisted it to serve his treacherous scheme of gun-grabbing? Well, sarcasm aside…no, not so much. More from the wiki article:

The Bloomberg School is the largest school of public health in the world, with 530 full-time and 620 part-time faculty, and 2,030 students from 84 countries.[19] It is home to over fifty Research Centers and Institutes with research ongoing in the U.S. and more than 90 countries worldwide.[20] The School ranks #1 in federal research support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), receiving nearly 25 percent of all funds distributed among the 40 U.S. schools of public health,[19] and has consistently been ranked #1 among schools of public health by U.S. News & World Report.[21]

All right then, so when someone questions Michael Bloomberg’s affiliation with the university, I think it can rightly be dismissed as shooting the messenger based on the university’s excellent reputation. On with the show.

We were surprised that NRA members had the widest variation in their support (or not) of policy types than any other group. This means NRA members showed a lot of distance (in terms of percent approval points) between what they liked best and what they didn’t. Women, on the other hand, liked just about every policy, and approved of them at similar amounts.

Interesting point. The NRA will latch onto whatever statistics they can find, to claim that they enjoy popular support among women. But the data from Johns Hopkins doesn’t suit the NRA fantasy; out of 31 different ideas for reducing gun violence, only four — the four least popular overall — fail to achieve majority support from the women polled for the survey. PBS presents the results in a handy interactive table, which can sort by column.It’s worth noting here that women have already been identified as a key demographic that could shift the 2014 election results away from the typical party in power loses scenario. So, in addition to saving lives through progressive gun policy change, we could also improve our chances next year.

The survey released by Women Donors Network, a self-described progressive “community of women philanthropists,” found that a subset of women voters who usually don’t vote in midterm elections are more likely to vote in 2014 on the issue of gun violence.That echoes what former Rep. Steve LaTourette (OH), now a militant moderate leader in the Republican Party, said on Tuesday when he cautioned his party against sticking too close to the National Rifle Association in the post-Newtown legislative push to reduce gun violence. If the GOP is seen as being in the pocket of the NRA, he said, it could cost the party big with women in future elections.

Poor Rep. LaTourette, he’s part of an endangered species! “Militant moderate” indeed. And to think, all we have to do is show the American people the truth, as the GOP is in the pocket of the NRA.

Anyway. What else has this Johns Hopkins study got to say? They asked Colleen Barry, the lead researcher.

“One surprise was that so many of these policies were supported by a majority of gun owners, and a second was that so many policies enjoyed support across political party affiliations,” Barry said.

Across the two parties, gun owners, non-gun owners, NRA members, all of them. It is impressive how many of these gun control policies enjoy widespread, bipartisan support. You wouldn’t know it from listening to Wayne LaPierre or John Boehner (perhaps not even Harry Reid). So from here on, I will be pulling percentages from that handy interactive table mentioned above. Check it out, it’s worth the time.Background checks, for example. “Requiring a background check system for all gun sales to make sure a purchaser is not legally prohibited from having a gun?” is the exact wording of their question. 74% of NRA members support this, and it just goes up from there. 86% of Republicans. 88% of independents. 92% of Democrats. All gun sales. No exceptions. And it enjoys the kind of approval even the President would like to have. I read this past week that he’s at 55%, a three-year high. I bet he’d like to score 74%. Well, seems like maybe supporting that universal background check may be one way to go.

So, out of the 31 policy ideas only four came in with less than majority support, overall. Worst case scenario, though, how’s the support from the NRA members look? This is where the surprise comes in. Thirteen different gun control policies on their list registered a majority of NRA members in support of them. From background checks, to requiring states to report more data and more funding to make it happen; banning guns for domestic violence convictions, or violating a restraining order, or for multiple alcohol or drug crimes; even taking away dealers’ licenses for record-keeping violations and ‘losing’ guns; and more still.

I can safely say from my interactions here that when the prospect of gun banning, prohibiting people from having guns, comes up, it’s generally considered as some kind of poison pill. Absolutely not, under no circumstances. But it seems even NRA members will support some reasonable prohibitions on gun ownership, accountability for gun dealers, and background checking and improving that system. Even if it means requiring that the states improve their reportage. The specific question was “Requiring states to report a person to the background check system who is prohibited from buying a gun due either to involuntary commitment to a hospital for psychiatric treatment or to being declared mentally incompetent by a court of law?” and it enjoyed the highest support among NRA members — 81% — for any of the 31 policy ideas. Overwhelming support for a federal mandate! Goodness gracious!

Hell, they’ll even support prohibiting people on the terror watch-list from having a gun (76% support from NRA members). Although it makes one wonder about the other 24%. What are they thinking? That they’ll be on it someday?

But enough about the NRA. Let’s talk Democrats. The Democrats polled for responses on these 31 gun control policies expressed support for 28 of them. Mind you, one of those three is a bit of a misnomer. “Allowing people who have lost the right to have a gun due to mental illness to have that right restored if they are determined not to be dangerous?” has a 32% approval rating. That’s about restoring gun rights. And nobody offers that majority support, including NRA members. Oh, but I said enough with them…what I want to focus on are where Democrats and the NRA dramatically differ, where we can safely say this is where we don’t agree with them, where the NRA’s opinions have the least sway in the Democratic party.

Sorting by Democratic percentages, one dramatic policy difference sticks out right away. Gun licensing. “Requiring a person to obtain a license from a local law enforcement agency before buying a gun to verify their identity and ensure that they are not legally prohibited from having a gun?” Democrats, 88%; NRA, 38%. Even Republicans support this idea at 69%, so folks opposing this are pretty much doing the bidding of the NRA and no one else.

I see another 40-point swing for background checks that take up to five business days to finish, but I’m not as concerned about that; even NRA members give that one 47% approval, it’s not that big a deal. Where I see an impressive difference is on assault weapons. You know, the issue that’s supposed to be DOA in Congress, that gun-cherishing Democrats like Harry Reid are so squeamish about supporting, because his pockets may be a bit stained with NRA blood money…

Only the NRA says these are worth keeping

“Banning the sale of military-style, semi-automatic assault weapons that are capable of shooting more than 10 rounds of ammunition without reloading?” 87% support from us. 52% from Republicans (a bare majority, but interesting). 15% from NRA members. 46% of gun owners are with us on this. This is not about gun owners. This is all about the NRA. And Democrats who vote this down — and I expect there will be quite a few — will hear from me about doing the NRA’s bidding. Of course, there’s more. Banning the sale of large-capacity magazines that hold more than 20 bullets. Banning the sale of magazines that hold more than 10 bullets. 83% support from Democrats for both of these. 20 and 19 from NRA members. Again, this is not a big deal for Republicans or gun owners; they show an even split, a bare majority of Republicans, just under from gun owners. Again, it’s all about the NRA. Even banning the possession of assault weapons, or of large-capacity magazines, provided that owners are paid fair market value for their weapons. 72% and 69% support from Democrats, respectively. Oh my flying spaghetti monster. Banning! Confiscation!

Only the NRA sees nothing wrong with this picture

Democrats support this. Americans overall support this. You might not know that, thanks to the impassioned denials and threats from gun enthusiasts, but this is not a threat or an anecdote or an obsolete argumentum ad Bill Clinton. It’s data, credible evidential support. And what the data shows is that many gun control proposals are much more popular than NRA mouthpieces or politicians either cowed into submission by them, or just in their pockets, will admit. It also shows which gun control policies enjoy widespread Democratic support, and extreme NRA opposition — showing how that opposition is right-wing fringe. It may not even be majority-Republican, it’s not Democratic, certainly not liberal.

Polling like this shows where we are strong and the opposition is split, and the NRA in particular is isolated and weak. Beyond that, I’ll be damned if I am going to give up on ideas that I support, that also enjoy broad support among Democrats. Especially on account of just the NRA against the rest of the country.

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Good weekend anticipated, in spite of…

November 17, 2012

…only having one day off this time due to work. But today I read the news that Ron Barber appears to be a cinch to win in my new congressional district. Then I wrote about it on Daily Kos. It’s not quite over, but the vote counting is going his way. I hope to hear a concession speech from his rival, Martha McSally. Not an overly objectionable Republican, really. But still, a Republican, and we can’t afford any right now. So, I get a blue dog for a rep in Congress. I miss Raul Grijalva. But at least I can imagine my vote for Barber really counted, it helped in this very close race.

The independent redistricting committee wanted competition, much to the chagrin of Republicans…they got competition, all right. They should be pleased.

Also, last night I forced myself to be social for a few hours and met some of the other kossacks here in Baja AZ. There is proof, they took pictures…have to wait and see how those turned out.

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In which my rep, Raul Grijalva, makes me proud

May 26, 2012

…as usual. It has been a while since I blogged much of anything on account of the dust storms and the sinus infection that ensued. But today I made a little time to comment on my rep in Congress. I am lucky to have such a liberal sort as Grijalva. If I hadn’t been working I might have gone out on their door-to-door thing today, but alas, stuck at work.

So next best thing, took a few minutes to mention his stance against the proposed Rosemont Copper mine, which even his Democratic challengers support. Feh. They won’t get my vote with positions like that.

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Phony-catholic outrage week!

April 20, 2012

Rawr. Ok, after watching this story brew all week, and trying (and failing) to post something relevant about it that hadn’t already been done, I put out a diary today on DKos about the Peoria bishop who compared Obama to Hitler.

Although I expect it to go nowhere, Americans United for Separation of Church and State has filed a formal complaint with the IRS about the sermon on the entirely reasonable grounds that it violated the church’s tax-exempt status to engage in such overt political advocacy. And the rule does include speaking out in opposition to a candidate, so it’s not as if they had to endorse Romney to violate the rule.

But let’s face it, in a two-party system, saying ‘don’t vote for this guy’ is equivalent to ‘vote for the other guy’.

Obama being the centrist uniter type though, I expect he’ll get the IRS to either do nothing or do it so slowly, quietly and ineffectually that it may as well be pointless. I just don’t see him taking on the conservative clergy in the RCC, even if it seems like he should. It’s not like all catholics blindly obey these jerks in funny hats and everything they say to do.

Even if it is the good fight, though, he’s probably better off letting organizations like the AU do battle with the right wing churchfolk. Someone has to do it, though.

P.S. ‘phony catholic’ is in reference to these right wing blowhards who wouldn’t know from Jesus if he showed up in front of them. It’s a shame that the bible is so easy to twist to serve conservative interests, but you know what they say…the poor you will always have with you.

Quick edit: this one might get read, someone changed it to ‘Recommended’ on DKos. The latest episode in the continuing saga of I have no idea how diaries make the Rec List.

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An amusing coincidence

March 10, 2011

As a result of some ‘meta’ argument on Daily Kos today, I was inspired to write this, in which I found an odd correspondence between the President and Jesus. Ack! Blasphemy!

I don’t know how serious it really is. I considered tagging it ‘snark’. But the problem of evil (of a sort) does seem analogous to my current dilemma of how to explain what the president is doing.

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It’s becoming a miniseries

February 5, 2011

My latest diatribe on Mark Critz, D-PA. It may seem like I’m picking on him…and I am! While I live in Arizona now, southwestern Pennsylvania is where I’m from, and I cannot abide this twit without at least speaking up about it. I could just as easily single out any of the Democratic cosponsors, they may well have more extensive anti-choice records.

I know they like to call it ‘pro-life,’ but I have trouble reconciling that with the consequences of the bills they promote — raped women less able to seek justice, pregnant women dying for lack of emergency care…that sort of thing.