“The Madness Of Wayne LaPierre”: Will NRA Members Suffer The Consequences Of His Racism And Paranoia?
If you’re looking for a sure fire recipe to boost gun sales, there’s nothing like putting a heavy dose of paranoia, along with a large dollop of racist fear mongering, into the atmosphere to get the job done—and NRA honcho Wayne LaPierre has certainly done his part.
In an op-ed published Wednesday by The Daily Caller , LaPierre twisted more than a few facts while arguing that the world is hell and attempting to navigate your way through it without a semi-automatic weapon at your side can only be perceived as sheer madness.
However, the true madness would appear to rest within the mind of Wayne LaPierre.
To make his central point that guns are a must in this terrifying inferno we call America, LaPierre treats us to the following—
“During the second Obama term, however, additional threats are growing. Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States. Phoenix is already one of the kidnapping capitals of the world, and though the states on the U.S./Mexico border may be the first places in the nation to suffer from cartel violence, by no means are they the last.”
While there is much in that paragraph to respond to, my attention was particularly grabbed by LaPierre’s effort to raise the specter of kidnapping run amuck, knowing full well that nothing frightens people more than the image of someone coming into their home and taking away a loved one. It is an effective use of imagery—despite being wholly dishonest in its use—that makes a meaningful contribution to both the art of fear mongering and spreading apprehension through the employment of racial stereotyping.
While it is absolutely true that there has been an unusually high number of kidnappings in the city of Phoenix, things are not exactly as LaPierre would have us believe.
In 2008, when Phoenix was experiencing the peak of its kidnapping troubles, Mark Spencer—head of the union that represents more than 2,500 Phoenix police officers—noted, “In the past year, there were 359 kidnappings in Phoenix, and not one was legitimate involving a truly innocent victim…”
In other words, the kidnappings were not the result of a scenario where bad guys were invading the homes of the good guys and stealing away their children. Rather, these were bad guys in a battle with other bad guys—bad guys whom Mr. LaPierre apparently wants to ensure are adequately armed so that they can defend themselves in the internal wars that occur in the business of illegal immigration.
This is like arguing in an op-ed piece that the public has an interest in insuring that the Bugs Moran Gang be better armed so that they can more effectively protect themselves from the attacks of Al Capone.
And then there is this paragraph from Mr. LaPierre’s piece—
“After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.”
Pretty scary, yes?
The problem is that LaPierre’s hellish, New York City landscape doesn’t quite jive with the actual data.
From the New York Daily News—
“Murders citywide dropped 86% from Monday, when the hurricane hit, to Friday, compared with the same time frame in 2011, NYPD statistics show. The city has also seen a slump in robberies. There were 211 this past week, compared with 303 in the same block of days last year – a 30% decline. Grand larcenies are down 48%, auto thefts are down 24% and felony assaults dropped 31%, department figures show.”
Because there was some looting in certain areas of the city where store fronts were ripped wide open, there were 271 burglaries in the five-day period following the storm compared to 267 the previous year.
Not exactly the scene straight out of hell as described by Wayne LaPierre nor one that warranted New Yorkers locking and loading en masse to deal with the horrors that enveloped them.
The paranoid op-ed piece goes downhill from there in a tone that resembles something more akin to what one might expect to be the manifesto of a madman holed up in a cabin in the woods planning to wreak his revenge on a dangerous world that just doesn’t understand him. It certainly is not the sort of rationally constructed editorial that one would hope to find in a credible publication.
Make no mistake. I fully appreciate and acknowledge the desires and concerns of Americans—and everyone else in the world—when it comes to protecting their homes and families. And if owning a firearm is what an individual believes is required to accomplish that protection, such is his or her right.
I also acknowledge that my own opinion on gun ownership is largely without relevance as it is the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution that gives Americans their rights in this regard, subject to legal and legitimate restrictions that may be placed on such ownership, and most certainly not my thoughts on the topic. The Supreme Court has made the parameters of gun ownership more than clear—and those parameters are fairly expansive.
What I do not appreciate—nor should any American appreciate—is LaPierre’s efforts to spread fear and racism under the guise of protecting the 2nd Amendment when all he is really doing is playing the part the gun manufacturers have assigned him as they seek to perpetuate the gold rush that has produced record-setting gun sales in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook.
Wayne LaPierre knows that no matter how many times he says it —or what method he may choose to scare the wits out of those who might become customers for the gun makers—there is not a shred of evidence that President Obama—or anyone else in the federal government who has anything to say about it—has any interest in ‘taking away the guns’.
Wayne LaPierre knows that even if there were a glimmer of expectation on the part of anyone with the power to ‘take away the guns’ that they could do so, it is a virtual impossibility given that the Supreme Court has well established an American’s right to own a firearm. The only way this happens is a complete rejection of the law of the land by our government, something LaPierre apparently does not fear as he notes in his op-ed piece, “Gun owners are not buying firearms because they anticipate a confrontation with the government. Rather, we anticipate confrontations where the government isn’t there—or simply doesn’t show up in time.”
Do you know what else Wayne LaPierre knows?
He knows that the only legislation moving through Congress is limited to banning the sale of certain semi-automatic weapons (not taking away any that are currently owned) just as he knows that this legislation has absolutely no chance of passing.
LaPierre also knows that the only possible changes we may see in gun laws will involve increased background checks for potential gun purchasers—a move that is widely supported not only by an overwhelming number of Americans but by a large majority of those who form the membership of the NRA. He knows this because he can read the polls as easily as I can—polls that leave little room for doubt.
A recent Quinnipiac Poll found that 92 percent of Americans support background checks for all gun buyers, including 91 percent of those living in homes with a gun. The January, 2013 Pew survey reports 85 percent of Americans—and 85 percent of gun owners—want all private gun sales and sales at gun shows to be subject to background checks. The CBS/New York Times poll conducted in January, 2013 had similar results, showing that 92 percent of Americans, including 85 percent of those living in a household with an NRA member, are in favor of universal background checks.
But Wayne LaPierre doesn’t care because background checks are bad for business—And Mr. LaPierre is all about the business of selling guns.
Despite knowing all these things, LaPierre could not resist spreading his message of fear with undertones of racism even in the face of knowing that the membership of the NRA will end up having no beef with the likely legislative outcome of our most recent discussion on guns.
Of course, there may be another explanation for LaPierre’s despicable behavior.
Maybe he is no longer capable of grasping these bits of information and demonstrations of reality because he’s been at this so long that he no longer can deal with facts and realities. Maybe all Wayne LaPierre has left is his hellish vision of his country.
Either way, LaPierre has become a liability to the membership of the National Rifle Association.
Gun owners have every interest in protecting the rights granted us all by the 2nd Amendment. But doing so by spreading fear, xenophobia and racial hatred is not going to get the job done and will only serve to hurt the members of the NRA in the long run. While the NRA is today one of the most effective lobbying organizations in America—if not the most effective—they now risk seeing their powers stripped away by LaPierre’s decision to lead the organization down the path of racism and paranoia rather than standing up for what the organization was intended to be—a place for gun owners to come together to sensibly and rationally protect and defend their Second Amendment rights.
While much of the media focus today is centered around the damage LaPierre is doing to the Republicans—the political party long viewed as the primary political ally of the NRA—if I were a NRA member, my concern would not be for the GOP but for the continued viability of my own organization.
If the NRA allows LaPierre to continue as their leader, they may well be writing the script for their own demise.
By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, February 14, 2013
Abusing a president is fair game. It is practically an American pastime.
Abusing his spouse is usually tasteless, but spouses have become political surrogates, and they have to expect a little rough-and-tumble now and again.
But abusing a president’s children? Practically daring the harmful, the hateful and the hideous in our society to make them targets? How shameless do you have to be to do that?
Ask the National Rifle Association.
That organization has been running a Web video verbally targeting the president’s two daughters. I do not suggest the NRA actually desires them to come to harm. I am (reasonably) sure nobody in the upper reaches of the NRA is that morally depraved.
But the NRA is using its members’ dues not to protect the rights of hunters, which is what the group used to do, but to run a video twisting the Secret Service protection of the president’s children to aid those who make a fortune by manufacturing and selling guns.
The ad says that armed guards protect the president’s children but that because the president thinks armed guards in every school might not be a sensible idea, he is an “elitist hypocrite.”
In point of fact, the president has never said he absolutely opposes armed guards in every school.
What he said on “Meet the Press” recently was: “I am skeptical that the only answer is putting more guns in schools.”
He is skeptical. I am skeptical. Columbine High had an armed guard, and 12 students and one teacher were still murdered.
What I am not skeptical about is that the family of our president needs Secret Service protection.
What I am not skeptical about is that raising the question of the safety of the president’s daughters was not just repulsive, but dangerous. Yes, the president’s daughters live in a mansion called the White House, and they have servants and their own bowling alley and get to go around in (armored) limousines.
But come on. They are kids. They are 14 and 11. Do you think they really like the protective bubble they have to live in?
And do you think they are not at special risk requiring special protection?
“To go so far as to make the safety of the president’s children the subject of an attack ad is repugnant and cowardly,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday.
I would call Carney’s statement downright restrained.
A few hours later, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced their own ambitious gun control plans. Some parts of it can be accomplished immediately by the president through executive action (though keep in mind, what one president does, a later president can undo).
And some can be accomplished only by Congress, a body so dysfunctional that it has become an elephants’ graveyard of hope.
But the president made one thing clear: What he wants to do about guns, he wants to do for America’s children.
“This is our first task as a society: keeping our children safe,” he said. “This is how we will be judged.”
He said he believes the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. “I respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of hunters and sportsmen,” he said. “I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.”
There is nothing in the president’s proposals that would keep a hunter from hunting or a target shooter from shooting. Changing a gun magazine every 10 rounds is not a burdensome task.
Having a background check for people who buy guns at gun shows is not a unique abridgement of personal freedom. Their personal “freedom” is already abridged. And by gun shows, I know this because I have been checking the websites of gun shows, and a lot seem to have the same rule: no loaded guns allowed.
“No loaded firearms and no loaded magazines are permitted in any Crossroads gun show,” one site said. “Your personal safety is our No. 1 priority while you are at the show.”
Personal safety? I thought loaded guns created personal safety.
“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” Wayne LaPierre, the CEO and executive vice president of the NRA, said a week after the massacre at Newtown Elementary School in Connecticut.
So I don’t get it. What if a “bad guy” with a loaded gun, who had become deranged by playing a video game (which is one of the NRA’s greatest fears), barged into a gun show? Wouldn’t we want a whole bunch of “good guys” with loaded guns to stop him?
So why disarm people at gun shows?
Because “personal safety” is the No. 1 priority, that’s why.
And that’s why we have to reduce the easy availability of guns in our society and ban military-style assault weapons and large-capacity gun magazines.
As Obama said Wednesday: “If parents and teachers, police officers and pastors; if hunters and sportsmen; if responsible gun owners; if Americans of every background stand up and say, ‘Enough. We’ve suffered too much pain and care too much about our children to allow this to continue,’ then change will come.”
For some, it will come too late. For some, it has already come too late.
But enough is enough.
By: Roger Simon, Politico, January 16, 2013
“Revolutionary Language”: The Sound Of A Cultural Paranoia By People Who Have Lost Their Grip On Power And Reality
That sound you hear is the sound of a cultural paranoia by people who have lost their grip on the reins of power, and on reality, and who fear the worst is coming.
And they are preparing for it, whatever it may be — a war, a revolution, an apocalypse.
These extremists make sensible, reasonable gun control hard to discuss, let alone achieve in this country, because they skew the conversations away from common-sense solutions on which both rational gun owners and non-gun owners can agree.
These people, a vocal minority, have extreme fears — gun confiscation, widespread civil instability, a tyrannical government — from which they are preparing to defend themselves with arsenals of weapons and stockpiles of ammunition.
If you pay attention to the right-wing’s rhetoric, you can hear a string of code words that feed the fears of these people and paralyze progress.
A collection of conservative groups have declared Jan. 19, during the weekend celebrating President Obama’s inauguration and Martin Luther King’s Birthday, as Gun Appreciation Day.
In a press release, the event chairman, Larry Ward, said, “The Obama administration has shown that it is more than willing to trample the Constitution to impose its dictates upon the American people.”
Using the word “dictates” is a subtle, but intentional, effort to frame the president as dangerous.
Andrew P. Napolitano, a Fox News analyst, said in a video posted Thursday on the network’s GretaWire blog: “Here’s the dirty little secret about the Second Amendment, the Second Amendment was not written in order to protect your right to shoot deer, it was written to protect your right to shoot tyrants if they take over the government. How about chewing on that one.”
He went even further in a piece in The Washington Times, saying that the Second Amendment “protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, with the same instruments they would use upon us.”
Who are Napolitano’s tyrants here? Is this government takeover theoretical, imminent, in progress or a fait accompli?
Ward went so far as to say on CNN: “I believe that Gun Appreciation Day honors the legacy of Dr. King.” He continued: “The truth is, I think Martin Luther King would agree with me if he were alive today that if African-Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from Day 1 of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history. And I believe wholeheartedly that it’s essential to liberty.”
Set aside, if you can, what would most likely be King’s horror at the association, and look at that language. Pay particular attention to the suggestion that guns are an essential guard against slavery’s resurgence in this country. And who would be the slaves and who the enslavers?
As the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a Spring 2012 report, the number of so-called patriot groups surged after Barack Obama was first elected president.
“The swelling of the Patriot movement since that time has been astounding,” the report said. “From 149 groups in 2008, the number of Patriot organizations skyrocketed to 512 in 2009, shot up again in 2010 to 824, and then, last year, jumped to 1,274.”
(According to the center, “Generally, Patriot groups define themselves as opposed to the ‘New World Order,’ engage in groundless conspiracy theorizing, or advocate or adhere to extreme antigovernment doctrines.”)
The center also points out: “Fears of impending gun control or weapons confiscations, either by the government or international agencies, also run rampant in antigovernment circles. As a result, many antigovernment activists believe that being well armed is a must. The militia movement engages in paramilitary training aimed at protecting citizens from this feared impending government crackdown.”
That’s why it is both shocking and predictable that James Yeager, the C.E.O. of a Tennessee company that trains civilians in weapons and tactical skills, posted a video online Wednesday (since removed but still viewable at rawstory.com) saying he was going to start killing people if gun control efforts moved forward. He said, and I quote:
“I’m telling you that if that happens, it’s going to spark a civil war, and I’ll be glad to fire the first shot. I’m not putting up with it. You shouldn’t put up with it. And I need all you patriots to start thinking about what you’re going to do, load your damn mags, make sure your rifle’s clean, pack a backpack with some food in it and get ready to fight.”
Again, calling the “patriots” to arms is, I think, no accident.
Chew on that.
By: Charles M. Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, January 11, 2013
When National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre called on Congress to place an armed guard in every school in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it showed that he has no intention of doing anything to stop deranged people from using military-style weapons to kill people in large numbers. LaPierre made it clear that the NRA isn’t interested in ending gun violence. In his theatrical and defiant Dec. 21 press conference a week after 26 Sandy Hook children and teachers were shot to death, LaPierre called for even more guns in schools.
In the debate about gun violence, the NRA will rely on time-tested scare tactics. Here are five reasons why the NRA must be defeated:
1. NRA leaders’ immoral interpretation of the Second Amendment presents a serious public health risk.
LaPierre essentially argues that the right to bear any kind of firearm for any reason without any rules – including limits on criminals’ access to the most dangerous weapons ever manufactured – is more important than others’ right to live. This is not what most NRA members or Americans support, and it’s not what the Second Amendment says.
2. The NRA does not represent the views of most NRA members and gun owners.
Recent polling underscores this point. For example, 74 percent of NRA members (and 87 percent of non-NRA gun owners) support requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers. The NRA rank and file also supports barring people on terror watch lists from buying guns (71 percent) and believes the law should require gun owners to alert police to lost and stolen guns (64 percent). NRA policy makers oppose these proposals.
3. The NRA represents gun makers, not gun owners.
LaPierre’s NRA is not the voice of law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen. It is the lobbying arm for gun manufacturers opposed to a ban on the assault rifles they make. These weapons include the Bushmaster used in Newtown, Conn., and many other recent shootings. The manufacturer calls this rifle the “ultimate military combat weapons system,” and the NRA gave the Bushmaster its “Golden Bullseye Award” in 2011.
It’s no surprise that the firearms industry contributes significantly to the NRA. In fact, less than half of the NRA’s budget comes from membership dues, and contributions from weapons makers and ideological donors (including the Koch Brothers) are rising. From 2004 to 2010, the NRA’s corporate and other fundraising revenue grew twice as fast as member dues, according to a Forbes piece on “The NRA Industrial Complex” by Peter Cohan. The Violence Policy Center estimates that between 2005 and 2011 the firearms industry donated as much as $38.9 million to the NRA. Lee Fang explains in The Nation that there are dozens of insidious ways that gun makers influence the NRA beyond direct cash contributions.
4. The NRA lies to the public and its members.
The NRA lies to law-abiding gun owners who want their rights protected by saying that a ban on military-style weapons with massive magazines would mean the government will come for hunting rifles next. The group says that if we close loopholes that allow people to get around criminal background checks, it’s only matter of time before the Second Amendment would be repealed. These are flat-out lies that the NRA uses to buttress its “slippery slope” opposition to sensible gun laws like those overwhelmingly supported by individual NRA members. They use the imaginary slippery slope to justify doing nothing.
5. The NRA uses its power to silence responsible politicians and quash constructive efforts to reduce gun violence.
The NRA is a dangerous force in American politics. Not even the atrocity in Newtown has tempered the organization’s extremism and rigid opposition to any effort to address gun violence. Expect to see the NRA use its considerable resources to ruthlessly attack every legislative proposal to address this crisis. LaPierre will employ negative television ads and direct mail marketing to attack the President, the Vice President and the members of Congress fighting for change.
The NRA is a political bully, and the politics of destruction is its trademark. Politicians have feared the NRA because of its willingness to target them with smear tactics and because of its reputation for defeating opponents at the polls, even though this reputation is undeserved and wildly exaggerated.
If public officials can talk with their constituents about the need for sensible gun laws, they’ll persuade most folks. But when the NRA gives an “F” grade to politicians who want to stop gun violence in America, and when it even lobbies to limit public and private data-gathering on guns and gun violence, this organization is having a chilling effect on public policy and debate. It intimidates good people from trying to do the right thing. It protects the status quo.
That’s why we have to aggressively take on the NRA and support the Biden Commission and members of Congress working on a comprehensive solution to gun violence. Washington must address the epidemic of mass killings, the daily shootings in our cities, the culture of violence and the need to expand access to mental health services.
We should start immediately by enacting commonsense gun laws such as those advocated by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy and supported by those members of Congress who opposed gun legislation prior to the massacre in Newtown. Won’t the nation be safer if we reduce the number of military-style assault rifles on the streets? Won’t fewer people be shot and killed in an America without large-capacity magazines? Won’t we be safer without the gun-show loophole that allows firearms buyers to evade background checks? The NRA doesn’t think so, and the gun manufacturers who set the NRA agenda simply don’t care. After Sandy Hook, the NRA issued a proposal that would make schools more dangerous, not safer.
The NRA doesn’t offer solutions. It works to keep things the way they are, not to reduce gun violence in America. We have to put the NRA on notice that its days of steamrolling Congress are over. The NRA is a public health hazard that must be stopped.
By: Ethan Rome, Executive Director, Health Care for America (originally published on the Huffington Post), January 7, 2013
Protect the Second Amendment, screw the First!
Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for British CNN host Piers Morgan to be deported from the United States over his gun control views. And sadly, I’m not surprised.
Morgan has taken an aggressive stand for tighter U.S. gun laws in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. Last week, he called a gun advocate appearing on his Piers Morgan Tonight show an “unbelievably stupid man.” And that is Mr. Morgan’s opinion, which he is entitled to, whether you like his accent or not. Entitled to, you ask? Is he a citizen of this country?! Well, there are a few folks, namely our founding forefathers, and more currently constitutional legal experts, who were pretty clear with regard to whose speech is protected by the First Amendment. Noncitizens and permanent residents are also protected under the First Amendment–that is unless, like those of us who are citizens, we’re yelling fire in a crowded theatre.
But that doesn’t seem to faze the gun rights activists. They are fighting back, creating a petition on December 21 on the White House E-petition website. This was done by a user in Texas accusing Morgan of engaging in a “hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution” by targeting the Second Amendment. It demands he be deported immediately for “exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.” The petition has already hit the 25,000 signature threshold to get a White House response.
Unfortunately for Tex and those who signed this petition, they shouldn’t hold their breath. Noncitizens, and especially permanent residents, have statutory rights to remain in the country unless they’ve done (or there’s sufficient reason to think they’ve done) certain bad things—at least until Congress revises the statutes to broaden the grounds for deportation. Even if the Executive Branch decides to deport someone, it has to have statutorily authorized grounds, and it has to provide hearings at which an immigration judge decides whether the conditions for deportation are met. The government may not criminally punish noncitizens—or presumably impose civil liability on them—based on speech that would be protected if said by a citizen. See Bridges v. Wixon (1945).
And how has Piers Morgan responded? Actually, he seemed unfazed, perhaps even amused by all of this. On Twitter he urged his followers to sign the petition, and in response to one article about the petition he said “bring it on” as he appeared to track the petition’s progress. “If I do get deported from America for wanting fewer gun murders, are there any other countries that will have me?” he wrote.
What bothers me about this is the blatant hypocrisy of those gun rights proponents. As a liberal, I push for stricter gun control measures; I always have, even before Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tuscon, Aurora, Portland, and Newtown, and I have been attacked by the right for wanting to take away their Second Amendment right to bear arms. I and other liberals have been clear we don’t want to take their rights away, we just want to protect other Americans, especially our children by restricting military-style weapons with high volume magazine clips. Yet when someone voices their opinion and it is completely contrary to what a gun proponent believes, they have no trouble tramping on their rights…namely the First Amendment.
Look, I’m no Piers Morgan fan. As a broadcaster, I get tired of radio programmers and networks hiring people with pretty British accents. I’m a fan of not only buying American, but “hiring American,” since I know so many people out there who are unemployed in the field of broadcasting and, quite frankly many of whom I feel are much more talented and qualified interviewers and broadcasters than Mr. Morgan. I don’t make the decisions as to who they put on the air at CNN, but I do have a choice what network or program I tune into. And I can assure you, Mr. Morgan’s show is not on my list of favorites programmed on my television.
If the gun enthusiasts really want to hurt Mr. Morgan for his opinions, they should realize it’s his ratings, not his residence address they should be attacking. Because if Mr. Morgan’s ratings plummet, CNN will hand him his walking papers and as Mitt Romney once proposed, Mr. Morgan will deport himself–perhaps back over the pond for a better cup of tea.
By: Leslie Marshall, U. S. News and World Report, December 26, 2012