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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Who’s for? Who’s against? Gun control

It looks like gun violence has finally gotten the attention of the two presidential candidates.  Barack Obama told an African-American group in New Orleans on July 26, that we’re lax in the control of weapons and wants to work with lawmakers to rectify this.  Mitt Romney, in the perfect National Rifle Assn. (NRA) profile, said changing laws on the issue wouldn’t prevent future incidents like the Aurora, Colo. movie shooting where 12 died and 58 were injured.

Obama and Romney on gun control
First of all, the President should be infuriated over gun violence; along with the Aurora massacre, his hometown of Chicago is currently going through the worst episodes in decades, almost exclusively within the black community.  He wasn’t.  Romney’s lame answer comes from cow-towing to the gun lobby for the votes of gun nuts.  He even mistakenly said many of the weapons used by James Holmes were obtained illegally.  They were all legal, including the ammunition.

The New Trajectory blog does an excellent job of covering the “semi-switch” in President Obama’s views on gun control with quotes from his speech.  Baldr Odinson ends by challenging the President now to turn those words into action, echoing a question many of us have about what the next steps of The White House will be.

So who’s for and who is against gun control?  You will be surprised at some that are in favor and others who aren’t.

  • Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), has already prepared a bill to limit the sale of high-capacity magazines like the one used by James Holmes when he killed 12 and injured 58 in the Aurora, Colo. movie theatre.

  • Arch conservative Bill Kristol said that people do have a right to handguns and hunting rifles but doesn’t think they have the right to assault rifles.

  • House Rep. Kevin McCarthy, number three Republican from California, sounds open to discussions on gun control but wants to have more facts first.

  • Another House Rep., an Oregon Democrat, feels the U.S. has given up on gun control.

  • Sen. Barbara Boxer from California says that Congress must pass sensible gun legislation.

  • Former Democratic Sen. from Connecticut, Christopher Dodd, called for more restrictions on guns and questions why Americans should be able to buy assault weapons.

  • Mitt Romney, of course, has put his support firmly behind the 2nd Amendment, a move no doubt orchestrated by wacky Wayne LaPierre of the NRA, and thinks new gun laws would not have made any difference in the Aurora tragedy.

  • New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has challenged and chastised both presidential contenders on not coming out stronger for gun control.  He comments: “I can tell you I don’t think there’s any other developed country in the world that has remotely the problem we have.

  • California Sen. Dianne Feinstein wants to have a “sane” discussion on gun control and ban assault weapons.

  • Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is in favor of a ban against large capacity ammunition clips.

  • Fox TV’s ultra-conservative Bill O’Reilly called for Congress to pass a law requiring the registration of all "heavy" weapons to be reported to the FBI because it "makes sense.”

  • Lauren Fox in US News said, there is no evidence to indicate that any existing gun law would have prevented James Holmes from doing what he did in Aurora, Colo.

  • House Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) wants President Obama to go around Congress using his executive authority to enact better gun laws.  Her husband was killed in the
    1993 Long Island Rail Road
    shooting massacre.

  • Michael Moore, Academy Award winning filmmaker’s statement says it all: "We have to see that we're a part of each other, and we have to take care of each other. The reason why they have universal health care in Canada and Britain, these other places? Because they believe if one suffers, everybody suffers," he tells the "Piers Morgan Tonight" host. "That is not our mentality, our mentality is 'I got mine, you get yours, and the hell with everybody else.'" 
Great statements on gun control by Michael Moore:

     
    Jason Alexander
    
  • Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame tweeted that he believes there should be some kind of gun control in the U.S. so that not just any “Joe Schmoe” could walk into a Walmart and purchase a weapon.

  • And it should be noted with interest that just days following the Aurora massacre, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) gathered in Salt Lake City behind closed doors to formally continue their support for the ownership and sale of assault weapons.  Read more here about the participating companies you should boycott.

  • And last, but certainly not least, there is Barack Obama’s views on gun control which have mellowed significantly since he was a Senator from Illinois.  The President must get reelected; another GOP administration in the White House and control of Congress would lead to a disaster for the U.S. in my mind.  If Obama is cooling it until his reelection in November, after which he plans to lower the boom on the NRA and pass gun control, that’s fine with me.  Only if.

It would appear that we have accumulated more than a modicum of support for gun control following the bloodbath in Aurora, Colo., which in itself is a tragedy that this issue continues to be forced into the forefront by the killing and injuring of innocent individuals.  All because of NRA head Wayne LaPierre and his leadership of lackeys and a fear-mongering reign over the organization’s membership.  But maybe this is the year and we should all be ready.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The real American terrorist and the war over guns

There are two distinct issues here.  The new American terrorists are the James Holmes, the Jared Loughners, the Seung-Hui Chos and the other gun massacre artists that came before them and those who will follow.  Yes, many will continue the trend because they are given the means so readily to accomplish their goals.  Any kind of mass killing device their heart desires, compliments of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) and its leader, Wayne LaPierre.

And the war over guns will continue, not just on the street, but also at the White House, the U.S. Congress, and in the minds and hearts of the American people.  It is a battle that has been going on since the late 1970s when wacky Wayne took over the NRA and made a fight for the 2nd Amendment his platform to power and riches for himself and his organization.  He has amassed a claimed 4.3 million membership that has in the past literally licked the man’s boots.

In this war the American public is losing, as is the case in Aurora, Colorado most recently.


James Holmes the terrorist that no one knew

Bill Schneider writing for Politico says in his glaring headline, “NRA is real winner on gun laws,” continuing, “Nothing will happen. That seems to be the consensus among policy experts after the senseless tragedy in Aurora, Colo., last week.”  That line of thought pretty much follows the overall atmosphere of two presidential contenders and the chicken-hearted Congress we have been left with.  But I do see an inkling of hope, which I will cover in a later post.

The author says Americans have lost confidence in gun control measures. In 1959, a Gallup poll said 60 percent wanted it; in 2011 26 percent were in favor.  And in the fight to re-ban assault weapons, just last year a majority in the U.S. said no.  What we don’t hear from these polls is “why” these respondents reply as they do.  I am no expert in polling but my gut tells me all the NRA propaganda has thoroughly confused the American public, in their favor.

Schneider believes the opposition to gun control is due to the fact that people see no evidence that it works.  And why is that?  Because there are no valid statistics available to prove that regulations on firearms do work.  And why is that?  Because the NRA and its leadership have made sure that a minimum of records are kept on guns in this country simply to cover up their lies and brazen and flawed doctrine on gun rights.  All thanks to a cowardly Congress.

John Horgan in Scientific American wonders "How many massacres will it take for politicians to stand up to gun nuts?"  He uses the term “gun nut,” which I also use frequently, to describe the kind of person that loves his or her guns more than they do life.  He describes Obama, the Illinois Senator in favor of some gun control, to the presidential candidate who came out strong for defending the 2nd Amendment.  A fact that has soured many progressives.

 
Easily available weapon of choice 

The Brady Center reports a total of 100,000 Americans are wounded by firearms each year in the U.S.  Of those, 31,347 are deaths according to the CDC, and Brady adds that more than a million Americans have been shot to death since 1968.  The gun nuts cry that self defense makes a gun necessary; the fact is that “a gun is 22 times more likely to be used in a suicide attempt; criminal assault or homicide; or unintentional shooting death or injury than for self-defense.”

Come on America.  What makes you people believe such garbage that spews from wacky Wayne LaPierre and his minions?  Don’t you have a mind of your own?  Anyone who cannot sit down and quickly analyze a situation like the Aurora move theatre killing which took 12 lives and injured another 58, and not come up with the conclusion that assault weapons should be banned, has a real problem with logic.  This isn’t rocket science, folks, it’s common sense.

Friday, July 27, 2012

NRA members defy organization’s leader wacky Wayne LaPierre

MAIG's Mayor Bloomberg
The National Rifle Assn. (NRA) membership told Mayors Against Illegal Guns, via pollster Frank Luntz, that they support sensible gun control.  This must have sent CEO Wayne LaPierre into the atmosphere; this fanatic is and has had a no-negotiations position for years.  Even on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.  Even after Virginia Tech, Tucson and now Aurora, Colorado.  The CrooksandLiars blog calls it a “real split” with “rabid” NRA leadership.

I have regularly put down NRA members because it seemed to me that they were as rabid as old Wayne and his minions but, hopefully, I am wrong.  Most of my conclusions were based on comments I have received when writing about gun control; many are absolutely unprintable, and that does say something for at least a portion of the members.  Also, I was crucified by NRAers when I posted on Daily Kos, eventually being thrown off the site for my views on gun control.

MUST SEE Young Turks video on Frank Luntz poll:

Here’s what New York Mayor Richard Bloomberg’s MAIG group found out:

87 percent of NRA members agree that support for 2nd Amendment rights goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

There is very strong support for criminal background checks:
  • 74 percent support requiring criminal background checks of anyone purchasing a gun.
  • 79 percent support requiring gun retailers to perform background checks on all employees – a measure recently endorsed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry.
  • NRA members strongly support allowing states to set basic eligibility requirements for people who want to carry concealed, loaded guns in public places. By contrast, the NRA leadership’s top federal legislative priority – national reciprocity for concealed carry permits – would effectively eliminate these requirements by forcing every state to allow non-residents to carry concealed guns even if they would not qualify for a local permit.

NRA members support many common state eligibility rules for concealed carrying:
  • 75 percent believe concealed carry permits should only be granted to applicants who have not committed any violent misdemeanors, including assault.
  • 74 percent believe permits should only be granted to applicants who have completed gun safety training.
  • 68 percent believe permits should only be granted to applicants who do not have prior arrests for domestic violence.
  • NRA's idea of gun control
  • 63 percent believe permits should only be granted to applicants 21 years of age or older.
If you have been reading this blog, you know that a great majority of what I have been advocating is included here.  It is also written about in other blogs like New Trajectory and Common Gunsense.  The Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, States United to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign all support similar types of regulation.  The only issue not addressed is the banning of assault weapons and high capacity gun magazines.  See the Luntz poll here.

Wacky Wayne will no doubt find countless things wrong with the poll, probably even attacking pollster Frank Luntz, most assuredly Mayor Bloomberg and the mayors Against Illegal Guns.  But maybe the time has come to challenge
Wayne LaPierre and his NRA leadership on the grounds that most all of the absurdity he has spouted in the past is just plain garbage and we are finally fed up with it. 

Read my two-part series on the fact that the NRA’s influence on political elections is virtually nil here and here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It’s all fiction: NRA has no effectual control over elections - Part 2

In Part 1, Paul Waldman’s first and second studies on the effects of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) on political elections in relation to money contributed to candidates and the organization’s influence on the outcome of the elections, covered the NRA’s (1)“Ineffective Spending,” and its (2)“Overrated Endorsements.”  The conclusive evidence of Waldman’s study confirms that, “The NRA has virtually no impact on congressional elections.”

Today in the third and fourth studies the author covers the sources of the myth that the NRA wields unlimited power in getting congressional leaders and presidents elected and then the contemporary status of guns in America.  Waldman seeks to literally knock out the foundations that provide “…the mistaken reading of history that allows the NRA to continue to make legislators live in fear of taking on the gun lobby.  In other words expose the NRA lies.

As NRA mythology goes, it all started in the early 1900s, during Bill Clinton’s first administration where the omnibus crime bill was passed in 1993 banning the sale of assault weapons.  Clinton even commented that the fight for the assault weapons ban cost 20 members their seats in Congress.  He added that the NRA was the reason that Republicans controlled the house.  Actually this wasn’t true as the study found a minimum impact on the 1994 election from NRA support.

“Republicans won the House in 1994,” Congressional scholar Gary Jacobson  wrote, “because an unusually large number of districts voted locally as they had been voting nationally,” or, they voted for Congress as they had for president.  It was highly partisan politics where some Democrats suddenly found themselves in trouble in GOP-leaning districts.  It probably had nothing to do with gun legislation, more likely to have been affected by Clinton’s health care reform.

NRA head, wacky Wayne LaPierre even said in speaking to the group’s annual convention in 2002, “You are why Al Gore isn’t in the White House.”  Many experts say, if Ralph Nader hadn’t run, Al Gore would no doubt have won.  And when Waldman looked for evidence that Gore’s stance on gun control cost him decisive votes, he found none.  He even carried states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa on the issue.

Waldman reiterates: “the National Rifle Association didn’t win Congress for the GOP in 1994, and it didn’t deliver the White House to George W. Bush in 2000.”  He also comments on a common theme that seems to surface during the analysis, “what the NRA claims credit for usually turns out upon closer examination to be nothing more than elections in which Republicans do well.”  Two glaring examples, Pres. Obama’s and Pres. Clinton’s election wins.

The NRA was in their blustering, bumbling profile while waving the flags over 1994 and 2000 victories, but were completely silent when the Democrats won in 2006 and 2008.

NRA caught with their pants down
 In Paul Waldman’s fourth study, he addresses the current status of “guns in America,” which has been experiencing a long, steady decline over the years.  We’re down to around 32 percent of U.S. households (37,349,213) owning guns, so this raises even more red flags in my mind.  If you do the math, the actual number of guns per households is 8, based on approximately 300,000,000 firearms in the country.  Now here’s the question:

Based on recent reports that gun sales have surged due to the Aurora, Colo. movie carnage, similar to past incidents of gun massacres, are these new guns going into the same households or are they new purchasers?  Either way we are putting more guns on the street thanks to the National Rifle Assn. (NRA).  But, if they are going into the same gun nut households, it is yet another example of an out-of-control nation that loves its guns more than it does its citizens’ lives. 

And that is how we are viewed worldwide.   

 The actual decline in gun sales dates back to 1977 when 54 percent of American adult households owned weapons, but by 2010 the number had fallen 22 percentage points to 32 percent.  Young adult, African American, Hispanic and Asian households have low percentages of gun ownership.  The right to own firearms has become more popular recently in the U.S., along with a majority of Americans that believe in reasonable gun controls.

Watch a not-too-accurate video on NRA lobbying:

Assault weapons, what James Holmes used in the Aurora movie theatre shooting, is another thing.  A CBS/New York Times poll in January 2011 found 63 percent of respondents favoring a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons, almost unchanged from the 67 percent that favored such a ban in March 2000 (and even a majority of gun owners favored an assault weapons ban), as reported by Waldman.

Two-thirds of Americans believe in the rights of the 2nd Amendment, but 86 percent want waiting periods to buy a gun.  79 percent support registration while 51 percent think we should limit the number of guns a person can own.  70 percent want gun permits and 85 percent of all gun owners, 69 percent of NRA members support mandatory background checks at gun shows. 

What is it about these numbers that President Obama and the Congress don’t understand?    

Paul Waldman closes by saying, “…the NRA’s vaunted power to determine which politicians win and lose at the ballot box is a myth, one that the group and its allies work hard to sustain. If more legislators understood that fact, it would become more likely that future debates about guns reflect Americans actual habits and beliefs.”

I’m hoping, that seeing this study, gun control advocates like The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, The Brady Campaign and States United to Prevent Gun Violence, would make certain copies of all four studies from Paul Waldman get in the hands of President Obama and every Senator and House Representative.  The Aurora, Colo. massacre was a tragedy, but if we use this and other gun violence to initiate stronger gun controls, we will pay honor to the victims.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It’s all fiction: NRA has no effectual control over elections

ThinkProgress has done a very comprehensive study on the effects of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) on political elections in relation to money contributed to candidates and the organization’s influence on the outcome of the elections.  It reads like a political novel (only true) that exposes the bad guys for just what they are.  Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor at The American Prospect, and author of the study said: “The NRA has virtually no impact on congressional elections.”

In Part 1 of the study, he continues, “The NRA endorsement, so coveted by so many politicians, is almost meaningless. Nor does the money the organization spends have any demonstrable impact on the outcome of races. In short, when it comes to elections, the NRA is a paper tiger.”  The NRA didn’t deliver Congress to the GOP in 1994 or the White House to George W. Bush in 2000.  As a matter of fact, gun ownership has been steadily declining In the U.S. for decades.

In the above, the NRA took full credit for both election issues and has repeatedly denied the deteriorating interest in guns.

Yet Republicans and Democrats alike back off in horror when asked to confront the NRA on gun control.  This lack of gun lobby influence includes independent expenditure (IE) campaigns where they could spend much more than averages for House and Senate races, which are $2,500 and $5,000 respectively.  The IEs amount to less than $10,000 in the House and around $30,000 for the Senate.  IEs are for/against campaigns with no direct connection to the candidate.

As an example, “In the last four elections, the NRA spent over $100,000 on an IE in 22 separate Senate races. The group’s favored candidate won 10 times, and lost 12 times.”  But it’s probably the “wins” that the knuckleheads in Congress concentrate on.

My take is that, regardless of the complete ineffectiveness of its support, the NRA spreads around its money across the board to those in Congress just so they can engage in bullying tactics to keep Senators and Representatives in line.  This gang of gun thugs, from the NRA’s head wacko Wayne LaPierre right down to its dwindling membership, could not function, even exist, these days without their fear-mongering tactics.

Watch a not-too-accurate video on NRA lobbying:

In the second part of this series, Paul Waldman endeavors to illustrate just how overrated the coveted NRA endorsement is.  He achieves stunning success.  Most think that with this affirmation, candidates have clear sailing through what they perceive as the NRA’s grassroots organizational scheming.  Waldman proves that the NRA’s stamp of approval is “largely a myth.”  What you have to understand is that NRA endorsements are given as reward for cooperation.

90 percent of GOP House incumbents got the endorsement in 2004, 91 percent in 2006, 96 percent in 2008, and 97 percent in 2010.  In many cases they are incumbents likely to win without the NRA, some who ran in their races unopposed.  86 percent of NRA House endorsements went to incumbents in the last four elections.  In other words, here is the payoff for doing what we told you to do, take a perpetual stand against gun control legislation. 

Waldman did a regression analysis using data from all House races where there was a margin of victory of 20 points or above, that measured the “what ifs” and holding constant the factors influencing the outcome.  The latter applied to an NRA endorsement associated with more positive results for the endorsee.  Here are the results:

  • Republican incumbents in contested races get no statistically significant advantage from getting the NRA’s endorsement; they do no better than those who are not endorsed.

  • Democratic incumbents who are endorsed by the NRA get no statistically significant advantage from being endorsed.

  • Republican candidates in open seat races get no statistically significant advantage from an NRA endorsement (the group endorsed only a few Democrats in open seat races, too few for meaningful statistical analysis).


 
NRA caught with their pants down


In fairness, there is one group that will receive a small boost: “Republican challengers who get endorsed when they run against Democratic incumbents do about 2 percentage points better than similar candidates who don’t get the endorsement.”  But only 5 percent of the NRA’s endorsements go to Republican challengers.  Waldman makes another conclusion that, “…in all but a tiny number of races, the NRA endorsement is essentially meaningless.

To back that up, the author offers; in 2004, all of the 4 NRA-endorsed challengers lost to their Democratic opponents, as did all 4 NRA-endorsed challengers in 2006. In 2008, 11 out of the 12 NRA-endorsed challengers lost.  In 2010, only 18 of 36 challengers won.  According to Waldman:

“That means that based on this analysis, in the last four federal elections, in which the NRA made a total of 1038 endorsements in House races, the group could claim credit for a grand total of 4 wins.”

Still, both Republicans and Democrats fight fiercely for the NRA’s support, convinced that they could not win without the gun lobby.  And wacko Wayne goes right along with the whole charade gloating over the fact that he has most of Congress in his back pocket.  If the Aurora, Colo. movies massacre doesn’t help to remedy some of this out-of-control lobbying, we might as well just wipe the books clean of all gun laws and allow guns everywhere, anytime, anybody.

I think not!

Part 2, including the 3rd and 4th studies next.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It is apathy by the American people over gun control that caused the Aurora, Colo. movie massacre

The U.S. public doesn’t seem to give a damn about the lives of those who die and are injured, some critically, in incidents like the shootings by James Holmes in an Aurora, Colo. movie theatre killing 12, wounding another 59.  There are 11 still in critical condition.  If Americans were really concerned, they would pressure Congress and the White House to strengthen gun laws.  One firearms expert commented that this wouldn’t have happened if assault weapons were banned.

I wonder just how many of the survivors of the 12 killed or family and friends of the 59 injured are against gun control?  If any were, I wonder if they still are?  Similarly, I wonder about those connected to the 569 shootings resulting in 311 deaths since March of this year that I have documented in my Monthly Shootings Report?  I cannot believe there isn’t some consternation among this group over just how easy these maniacs are able to obtain guns to kill.

Richard M. Aborn is president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City and a former president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.  In a recent opinion piece he did in the Washington Post, he said that “indifference to gun violence is a national crime.”  Further, “The debate about guns in the United States has always been between David and Goliath. Last year, the gun lobby outspent advocates of gun control by 11 to 1, or $2.9 million vs. $260,000. Interpreted, gun nuts are much more passionate about their cause.

NRA members and American public join Alice
And that’s because the head wacko of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA), Wayne LaPierre, instills the fear of God in his members that Barack Obama is conniving to take away their guns.  Of course this is bullshit since Bill Clinton didn’t do it and neither has President Obama.  So what will it take to change these “apathetics” as I call them, to support reasonable gun control? 

To start with, we are probably talking banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, stronger background checks and closing the gun show loophole.

Aborn says supporters of gun control are most likely “…broad-based progressives who also support education reform, reproductive choice, marriage equality and other issues.”  He adds that with U.S. low voter turnout, it is hard to organize around single-issue voting blocs like this, but the NRA is the master using their fear-mongering mentioned earlier.  However, you would think after an incident like in Aurora, Colo. new believers would emerge for gun control.

But have they or will they?  There are three things critical to taking control back, according to Aborn:

  1. Americans must understand that violent crime is still with us, evidenced by incidents like the massacres at Virginia Tech, Tucson, Arizona, and now Aurora, Colorado.
  2. We have to talk to and understand gun owners with the idea of negotiation always open.  90 percent of gun owners support reasonable gun control and don’t want to see more carnage like the above.
  3. We have to establish a national system for tracking the effects of gun control to counter NRA arguments that it does not work.  I suggested in a post yesterday that we identify NRA members involved in any shootings resulting in death or injury.

Over and over, most gun control advocates have indicated they don’t want to take away the basic rights of the 2nd Amendment.  But it should be clear to most of you by now that the NRA’s conception of guns for anyone to take anywhere they want to has not worked.  It is time to change that.

Monday, July 23, 2012

It’s time to make the NRA accountable…was Aurora movie shooter a member?

The National Rifle Assn. (NRA) has bragged for years about what a law abiding bunch its members are, with the implication that no one from their membership would be involved in illegal shootings or homicides, certainly not something as outrageous as the shooting last Friday at a movie in Aurora, Colorado.  Well, I am here to tell you it is not true.  J.T. Ready, who killed five, including himself, in a smaller scale execution in Arizona recently, was an NRA member.

Shooter James Holmes
Similarly, was Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan of the Fort Hood, Texas incident a member?  How about Seung-Hui Cho in the Virginia Tech shootings or Jared Loughner of Tucson, Arizona shooting fame?  And of course was James Holmes, the latest maniac wielding a gun to do his dirty work in an Aurora, Colorado theatre last Friday a member? 

What is equally important is whether or not NRA members had anything to do with the 569 shootings resulting in 311 deaths as documented in my Monthly Shooting Report.  I don’t expect an answer from Wayne LaPierre, who heads up the NRA but all Americans should be wondering by now.


Aurora, Colo. movie shooting

In this latest incident in Colorado, 12 people were killed and 59 injured, but those numbers were changing rapidly at this writing; it could be more by now.  Holmes was armed with 2 Glock handguns, a shotgun and an AK-47 type assault rifle.  He bought them over a period of time, avoiding federal reporting requirements in a state that has failed to pass significant gun control legislation even considering the Columbine massacre 13 years ago, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.   

Top secrets at the CIA or National Security Admin. probably aren’t guarded any more closely than the NRA’s membership roster.  But Joan Peterson on her blog, Common Gunsense, has a theory that their membership is declining so the group has resorted to desperate tactics, which you can read about on the link above.  And that makes sense with the study done by Paul Waldman and reported on Think Progress, showing gun ownership dropped 22% from 1973 to 2010.

Some gun nuts are finally turning into rational thinking individuals, while painfully discovering at the same time that they have been conned by NRA higher-ups into contributing unlimited sums just to keep those like top gun wacko Wayne LaPierre living like kings.  Most non-profits like the NRA spend only 25% on fundraising which includes administrative/salaries.  The NRA spends 46% on the latter which amounts to 84% above normal.  Does that tell you something?

Aurora movie shooting video:

This is not an attempt by me to expose the members of the NRA; there are many who are law-abiding citizens that even believe in some forms of gun control, like strengthening background checks.  But because the NRA bases its concept of 2nd Amendment rights on the need for guns to protect its membership, it owes the American public as well as the U.S. Government a look at those members.

If, for instance, a significant percentage of members, or former members, have felony backgrounds related to shootings or killings, certainly if any of them were involved in past shooting massacres, then maybe it is time to examine just how valid the NRA mandate for their 2nd Amendment rights is.  This makes perfect sense to me in view of the concentration by the NRA on fear mongering that Obama is going to take away their guns, resulting in more mass purchases.

I am an optimist when it comes to Americans finally waking up to force Congress and the White House to get tough on gun control.  It may even require getting rid of every Republican and some Democrats in Congress.  It also means taking a long look at President Obama since he says his views on gun control haven’t changed, even after the Aurora, Colo. Movie melee.  I am doing a post later this week on why the gun lobby will have absolutely no effect on the Nov. election.

Friday, July 20, 2012

NRA’s Wayne LaPierre bigger con artist than Bernie Madoff


LaPierre's Do-it-yourself lobotomy

Bernie Madoff may have stolen billions of dollars from clients through his massive Ponzi scheme, but that is nothing compared to the thousands that have died as a result of Wayne LaPierre’s deception of the American public that has convinced them, and his lackeys in Congress, that everyone who wants one should have a gun and be able to take it anywhere he wants to.  Over the years, it has resulted in 10.2 firearm deaths per 100,000 population annually.

LaPierre has used the power of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) to bully his way through state legislatures and the U.S. Congress to pass the loosest gun laws this country has ever seen, intimidating everyone in his way including a gullible American public.  It is pathetic to see how members of Congress cow-tow to his every whim because they are terrified of alienating this fanatic and losing millions of dollars in donations.  Not considering the payoff…death by guns.

The guru of guns has meticulously placed in motion his latest conspiracy theory that President Obama is trying to take away his precious firearms and has concentrated on Attorney General Eric Holder and the Fast and Furious fiasco.  In an article by Meenakshi Krishnan in the New Republic, he talks of the criminal contempt against Holder and the NRA’s threat to Congress that their votes would be considered in future candidate evaluations.  This is pure blackmail.

Krishnan comments that, “…there’s little to commend the NRA’s theory that Operation Fast and Furious was part of a grand ‘gun control agenda’ directed from the White House.”  In effect, it was debunked by a recent House Oversight report.  But it has long been known, although rarely acknowledged, that Fast and Furious is actually a product of the George W. Bush administration, called “Wide Receiver” at the time.

Supposedly GWB added transmitters to the guns for tracing, but according to Adam Winkler, professor of constitutional law at UCLA and author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, only some but not all had the tracking devices.  Robert J. Spitzer, Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at SUNY-Cortland and the author of four books on gun policy claims he could not even verify the existence of the transmitters.

Eric Holder with Pres. Obama
But there is even strong evidence now that the NRA’s dominance is waning, as covered in a recent series of four reports on Think Progress.  Studies were done on four federal elections, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.  It might surprise you, perhaps even be something of a shock, that the study concluded that the “NRA has virtually no impact on congressional elections.”  There is much more to these studies and I will be posting on this at length in the future.

Krishnan thinks that the NRA is desperate for an election year issue.  For years the group’s head wacko has spouted about the big conspiracy to take away guns from the law-a- biding bubbas, and, quite frankly it’s getting old.  LaPierre is focusing on Eric Holder and Fast and Furious as a last-ditch effort to shore up more fear-mongering in Congress, and force its gun nut membership to shell out more of their money to keep the hierarchy in their luxuries.

And, unfortunately, these poor souls will once again come to the feet of LaPierre and pretty much give him what he wants.  The same will hold true for much of Congress which is terrorized by the thought now that wacky Wayne could turn against them between now and November.  In the meantime, gun violence will continue and I will keep publishing my monthly shooting report that documents deaths and injuries just because of loose firearm laws.  Life goes on...or not.


UPDATE: Aurora Movie Shooting

Friday, July 20, 2012 - Aurora, CO -- A gunman armed with two Glock handguns, a tactical shotgun, and an AR-15 style assault rifle killed at least 12 and wounded 38  59 58 in a local movie theatre.  How many of those innocent victims still living, along with the families of those dead, plus those who were not hurt still think the NRA's head, Wayne LaPierre, is right when he screams 2nd Amendment rights for gun owners take precedent over these kinds of massacres?


Release from Ladd Everitt of the Coalition to stop Gun Violence:

CSGV STATEMENT ON THE MASS SHOOTING IN AURORA 
Washington, DC—We are deeply saddened by today’s tragic events in Colorado. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims, those who were injured, and everyone traumatized by this senseless act of violence.

Reports indicate that the shooter, 24-year-old James Holmes, wore body armor and was armed with two Glock handguns, a tactical shotgun, and an AR-15 style assault rifle. He also released some type of chemical gas into the theater during the massacre. 12 fatalities have been reported so far, with approximately 38 moviegoers injured, including 16 critically.

Sadly, there is nothing novel about this tragedy. It is yet another massacre perpetuated by a homicidal maniac who was given easy access to lethal, military-style firepower.

The pro-gun movement has told us that bloodbaths like Aurora are the price we must pay to guarantee freedom and individual liberty in the United States. Rational Americans should reject such radical ideology and demand immediate reform of our gun laws.

The truth is that there is no greater threat to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” than the wanton gun violence that continues to destroy American families and communities. Until our legislators stand up to the extreme leadership of the National Rifle Association and enact laws to ensure the thorough screening of gun buyers, tragedies like Aurora will continue to haunt America. It is long past time to put public safety back on the agenda in the U.S. Congress, and in our state legislatures.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The mysterious statistics of firearm deaths the NRA doesn’t want you to know

I am writing this after a comment on this blog relating to my latest post on monthly U.S. shootings by Joan Peterson who publishes the Common Gunsense blog.  There is a significant difference in my numbers and the actual because only a few of the gun shooting incidents are reported in the media where I get my data, compared to the actual number of total firearm deaths and firearm homicides that actually occur nationally. 

Per Joan, the best statistics come from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

As an example, the CDC reports total firearm deaths annually at 31,347 which breaks down to 2,615 per month, 603 a week and 86 per day.  In my June report I show a total of 128 shooting deaths compared to the 2,615 figure from the CDC.  The CDC reports firearm homicides at 11,493 a year broken down by 958 monthly, 221 weekly and 32 a day.  My monthly report does not break out homicides but most deaths are, with a few suicides and accidents periodically.

I surfed around the CDC site and noticed they highly recommend a state reporting system on all categories of deaths, including those by firearms.  They even have a model states can follow to set up this kind of compiling and reporting.  So why don’t states initiate a system that would document firearm deaths taking into consideration the recent increases.  Is it due to budget restraints?  Partially, perhaps, but not entirely.

It is mostly because the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) and others in the gun lobby won’t allow it.  That’s right.  NRA money and guaranteed votes make local, state and federal politician think twice before crossing the organization.  The NRA fights mercilessly against record keeping of any kind when it comes to guns.  Just look at the reaction when President Obama started the reporting of U.S. firearm sales from gun dealers along the border with Mexico. 

This is an ongoing altercation between the gun control advocates and the gun bubbas that so far the latter is winning.  Most on the gun control side will tell you that the NRA is no more than a bunch of arrogant, raucous jerks that demand their way or nothing.  No negotiations, no giving of any kind; sounds just like the GOP stumblebums in Washington.  Yet the gun deaths go on, increasing on a regular basis, and the American public and politicians do nothing about it.

Go figure.

In the future I plan to reach out to organizations that might be helpful in the assembling of a more accurate report of the number of firearm deaths, starting with the CDC.  If you know of any, please have them reply by comment to this post.  My goal is to put together a mandate for Americans that is convincing enough that they will demand that the Congress and the White House take action. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Are you experiencing trouble with credit reporting agencies?

In the politics of every administration, whether it is Democrats or Republicans, there have been minor efforts to both curb the power of these giants of credit as well as have them clean up the way they do business.  Powerful in that they have complete control over a person’s credit record; they can and do wreck it for many, often by mistake.  Clean up their act as in making errors; as late as 2011, 80 percent of credit reports had them.

The giants of credit reporting are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, and they wield their power in a relentless way because so far, the feds haven’t figured out a way to control them.  Like J. Edgar Hoover, as FBI Director in the late 60s and early 70s, had dossiers on presidents and members of Congress; the big 3 credit bureaus know they have the capability to help or ruin a person’s credit, often their life, and at times are very callous about it.  And that’s the problem.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has said it plans to “oversee” about 30 credit reporting firms; each of the big 3 supplies data to smaller companies spread out through the U.S and some of them even collect their own. The public "should not be burdened by unreasonably laborious processes to get errors removed from their files," CFPB director Richard Cordray said, according to the Wall Street Journal in an article by Alan Zibel.

From Zibel’s article: “A key problem for the industry is that federal law doesn't specify exactly what steps credit-reporting firms must take to investigate consumer complaints on reporting errors, and that's led to a flood of lawsuits,” said John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at SmartCredit.com, a credit-monitoring site. "It's my opinion versus yours," he said.  My take on this is that it is an unforgivable breach in consumer protection.

Watch this video re. lawsuit against TransUnion:

During the 35 years I spent in the junk mail industry, the biggest hawkers of your names and personal data were the three credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.  Everything from your age to your income, how much you paid for your house, how much you owe, how many children you have and their ages, your education level, where you work, if you smoke drink or gamble, what ailments you have, and the list goes on and on.  It’s all there for immediate use.

Credit scores
You would think, after selling all this personal information—It amounts to over $4 billion annually—that the credit bureaus would at least take better care of your personal data and be more courteous with corrections when you ask for them.  Not so on both counts.  80% of credit reports still with errors.  And a blog I posted back in August of 2006 on this very issue still gets comments today complaining about credit bureau treatment, particularly aimed at Experian.
  
That post dealt with a problem I had with Experian, after writing unflattering articles about the company.  Just days after this my credit history was taken down and I, nor the creditors, had access to it for over two months.  At the time I was paying Experian $90.00 a year for this service.  It finally reappeared with no explanation, and during that two-month period I was given every excuse in the book by a very incompetent series of customer service reps and managers.

Here are some of the comments from the above blog post:

I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO GET IN TOUCH WITH SOMEONE AT EXPERIAN (FOR THREE DAYS) ABOUT BEING TURNED DOWN BY CAPITAL ONE TO OPEN A 2ND ACCOUNT. THE FIRST ONE (I'VE HAD FOR 4 YEARS) HAS A $22 BALANCE WITH A CREDIT LIMIT OF 14,000. CAPITAL ONE SAYS GET IN TOUCH WITH EXPERIAN.
I WENT ON LINE AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH MY CREDIT MY SCORE IS IN HIGH 700'S I AM 65 AND HAVE GREAT CREDIT.

WHAT IS GOING ON
*****
There is a reason that Experian has such a crappy reputation - they are incompetent.

I recently disputed several items on my credit report via their online dispute process.

One item, they updated - by adding that I needed to contact the creditor (A paid off account that I have documentation of that status).

Another account - which was not mine, nor was I ever a party to... is listed and they just responded that it remains on my report (no explanation).

Yet a couple of others -they updated dates on the accounts - to incorrect dates.

And if you try again to dispute these accounts, their system will not allow it - you must mail in documentation (what documentation do I need to send in for an account that was never mine in the first place?).

Idiots.

*****
A year later, and Experian is just as incompetent. My husband's social security number is incorrect on his credit report, which means we can't get a credit report, and you can't dispute what's on your credit report until you get the credit report. Figure that one out. Experian makes it extra-specially impossible, as they send you to a local affiliate who tells you to contact Experian directly, who sends you to the affiliate saying they don't handle yours, but the affiliate won't handle it either.

My husband wants to be part of this country, yet he can't even get a CASH SECURED credit card because of this problem that can't be fixed. The slap on the face is that these companies have no responsibility for verifying even the basic information they have on you. THEY transposed the numbers and WE have to pay for it?
*****
It's been 2 years since this site started. It's now May 2008 and nothing's changed. Experian put a woman's name that sounded similar to mine on my report and listed that as my alias. They also put her delinquent acct. on it. I have my credit report but can't dispute it on line because I can't answer 4 questions to Experian's liking (most likely because Experian has wrong data)I get nowhere with the voicemail on their phone system. Why won't they take a letter and where can I send it?

*****

Im About to Apply For A Job There!! Get My Information Corrected!! And Then Quit!!
*****
I am legally blind and Experian has refused to provide me with a copy of my free annual report since 2009 after I relocated to Colorado.
The FTC refuses to intervene and this organization refuses to force Experian to follow the law.
Consumers need to petiton Congress to force action. Credit Scoring needs to be banned as this is an indiscreet Caste System that is illegal in the USA.
Experian continues as do other CRA's who are not government agencies and intentionally for a profit violate every State Constitution and the United States constition when they sell your personal information for profit.

*****

Step up and take action where 240 million plus in the United States can make a difference through class action litigation. I am willing are you?

Now this is only seven of 72 comments; the first four starting in 2006, the last three just recently.  You can read all 72 here.

Alan Zibel’s article is yet another welcome wake up call to correct a major abuse of consumers across the U.S.  It has been going on, and it will continue to go on in the future if the feds don’t crack down on the big 3 credit reporting companies.  If the GOP wins in November, there is no hope of correcting this situation.  If the Dems come back in force—the White House and Congress—they should place this dilemma on the list of priorities.