The two words that cause the most fervent reaction in this country are gun control. The Left runs from them faster than Sarah Palin confronted by a non-Fox News reporter, and the Right goes out and buys more guns.
This first uniform national gun control law was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 in response to the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981. James Brady, for whom the bill is named, was critically wounded in that shooting and has never fully recovered. Two others, a District of Columbia police office and a Secret Service agent, were also wounded.
The sad truth is that the Brady Act, while a landmark bill for its time, has proven woefully inadequate in preventing gun violence in this country. Based on data collected in 2000 from sixty countries, the United States ranked eighth in gun-related deaths, bested in this dubious honor only by South Africa, Columbia, Thailand, Guatemala, Brazil, Estonia and Mexico.
A Few Instances of U.S. Gun Violence from Brady Bill Signing to 2008
April 1999: Two students at Columbine high school in Littleton, Colorado, killed 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves.
October 2002: Ten people were killed and three others were critically injured during the three-week sniper attacks in the Washington Metropolitcal Area (DC, Maryland, and Virginia).
March 2005: A student at Red Lake high school in Minnesota killed five students, a teacher, a security guard, and then himself. Before school, he had shot dead his grandfather and his grandfather’s companion.
October 2006: A gunman took hostages and eventually shot ten girls, aged 6 to 13, at an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He killed five of the girls before committing suicide inside the schoolhouse.
April 2007: In two separate attacks at Virginia Tech, Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded many others before committing suicide. The massacre is one of the deadliest shooting incidents by a single gunman in United States history, on or off a school campus.
December 2007: A gunman killed eight people and wounds five at a shopping mall in Omaha, Nebraska, before killing himself.
American soldiers killed (yearly average) in the Viet Nam war: 5,820
American soldiers killed in the Iraq war to date: 4,700
American soldiers killed in the Afghanistan war to date: 1,398
People killed in the three terrorist attacks on America, 9/11/01: 3,497
Americans killed by guns in 2007 (latest statistic from the CDC): 31,224*
The National Rifle Association: Nurturing the Lock & Load Mentality.
In his January 27, 2000 State of the Union Address, President Clinton proposed a law requiring the licensing of all American handgun owners.
The proposal was immediately opposed by the NRA, American firearms owners, dealers, and manufacturers, as well as many members of the U.S. Congress.
A few unsavory actions regarding Mr. LaPierre:
In 1995, former President George H. W. Bush resigned his lifelong membership in the NRA after LaPierre called federal firearms agents involved in the Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas assaults, “jackbooted thugs.”
In 2000, LaPierre said President Bill Clinton tolerated a certain amount of violence and killing to strengthen the case for gun control and to score points for his party. Charlton Heston, the then-president of the National Rifle Association, called LaPierre’s language “extreme rhetoric.” Clinton White House spokesman Joe Lockhart called it “really sick rhetoric, and it should be repudiated by anyone who hears it.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_LaPierre and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brady_Handgun_Violence_Prevention_Act for the NRA’s reaction to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.
“Obama is the best gun salesman we’ve had in the last 50 years.”
June 3, 2008: The Washington Post reported that,
June 26, 2008: The U.S. Supreme Court embraced the National Rifle Association’s contention that the Second Amendment provides individuals with the right to take violent action against our government should it become “tyrannical.” The case of District of Columbia v. Heller was decided by the Court in a 5-4 ruling. The opinion not only endorsed the National Rifle Association’s “individual right” interpretation of the Second Amendment; it also affirmed that one of the purposes of the right is to “assure the existence of a “citizens’ militia” as a safeguard against tyranny.” The NRA’s amicus brief in the case argued that “the Second Amendment refers to the utility of an armed population in preventing government tyranny.”
July 27, 2008 (one month later): Jim Adkisson shot and killed two people at a progressive church in Knoxville, Tennessee, and wounded two others. Adkisson called it “a symbolic killing” because he really “wanted to kill…every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg’s book,” but was unable to gain access to them.
November 2008: Just after the 2008 election, the Alaska Daily News reported from an interview, “Obama is the best gun salesman we’ve had in the last 50 years,” said Jack Murray, Alaska Shooters Supply owner. “We sold more guns (the day after the election) than I have on any one particular day in 21 years. I was crying all the way to the bank.”
November 19, 2008: In reference to the disputed Norm Coleman/Al Franken election on November 4, Home Depot’s founder Bernie Marcus said in a conference call, “If a retailer has not gotten involved with this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to Norm Coleman and these other guys…then those retailers “should be shot…”
December 2008: A gunman dressed as Santa Claus killed nine guests at a Christmas Eve party before taking his own life in Covina, a suburb of Los Angeles in California.
Not long after Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, the GOP far-right-wingers and the fledgling Tea Party decided that President Obama was – among many other things – a “tyrant,” and further reved up their Second Amendment gun rights.
February 20, 2009: Fox News commentator Glenn Beck hosted a program that games a 2014 civil war scenario called “The Bubba Effect.” It involves citizen militias in the South and West taking up arms against the U.S. government.
March 11, 2009: NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference and announced that “Our Founding Fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules.”
March 21-22, 2009: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) stated that she wanted residents of her state “armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back.”
March 22, 2009: A gunman killed ten people, strangers and family members, before dying in the subsequent shootout with officers.
April 4, 2009: Neo-Nazi Richard Poplawski shot and killed three police officers responding to a 911 call to his home in Pittsburgh. His friend Edward Perkovic told reporters that Poplawski feared “the Obama gun ban that’s on its way” and “didn’t like our rights being infringed upon.” Perkovic also commented that Poplawski carried out the shooting because “if anyone tried to take his firearms, he was gonna’ stand by what his forefathers told him to do.”
May 31, 2009: Dr. George Tiller, one of only a few doctors in the nation who performed abortions late in pregnancy, was shot to death in Wichita, Kansas, in the foyer of his longtime church as he handed out the church bulletin. [Sunnyjane: Bill O’Reilly on Fox News called for Dr. Tiller’s death many times. See the Crooks and Liars post on 6/1/09: Bill O’Reilly has Dr. George Tiller’s blood on his well-stained hands.
June 10, 2009: James W. von Brunn, a convicted felon and a “hardcore Neo-Nazi,” walked into the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and shot and killed a security guard. Von Brunn believed that Western civilization was going to be replaced with a “ONE WORLD ILLUMINATI GOVERNMENT” that would “confiscate private weapons” in order to accomplish its goals.
August 2009: New Alaska quitter-governor Sarah Palin declared on Facebook that President Obama’s new health care proposal had “death panels.” Many of her followers used this mythical assertion (PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year for 2009) as another sign of the government’s tyrannical inclination.
And this was just the beginning. You can read more of these instances at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
The Right Ratchets Up Its Gun Rhetoric for the 2010 Mid-Term Elections
— Robert Lowry, a Republican challenger to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL) stopped by a local Republican event at a gun range in October. Lowry shot at a human-shaped target that had Wasserman Schulz’s initials written next to it.
— Pamela Gorman, a conservative in a crowded Republican primary field in Arizona’s third district, got some much-needed publicity with a web ad that showed a montage of her shooting different kinds of guns. She also blasted out press releases with titles like: “Armed and Fiscally Responsible.”
— Gabby Giffords’ opponent in Arizona, Republican Jesse Kelly, had a gun-themed fund-raiser in June in which supporters could come and shoot an M-16 rifle with him. It was promoted as: “Get on Target for Victory in November. Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.”
— Dale Peterson, Republican candidate for agricultural commissioner of Alabama, ran an ad in May which he posed with a rifle and declared, “I’ll name names and take no prisoners.”
— Senate candidate Sharron Angle (R-NV) said, “People are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, my goodness, what can we do to turn this country around? I’ll tell you, the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out.”
— Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) told Politico that he hunts Democrats. Asked about the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, he said, “We hunt liberal, tree-hugging Democrats, although it does seem like a waste of good ammunition.”
Florida talk-radio host Joyce Kaufman, said, “I am convinced that the most important thing the Founding Fathers did to ensure me my First Amendment rights was they gave a Second Amendment. And if ballots don’t work, bullets will.”
— Supporters of Tea Party candidate Joe Miller openly carried assault rifles and handguns during a community parade in Eagle River and Chugiak, Alaska, while young children marched alongside them. Miller, who is ran against Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary, was endorsed by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who described him as a “true Commonsense Constitutional Conservative.”
— And on November 4, 2010, Sarah Palin tweeted: Remember months ago “bulls eye” icon used to target the 20 Obama-lovin’ incumbent seats? We won 18 out of 20 (90% success rate; T’aint bad)
The Right’s Response to the Tucson Shootings on January 8, 2011
— January 9, the day after the Tucson shootings, SarahPAC mouthpiece RAM denied that “crosshairs” ever existed over Giffords’ district, calling them instead “surveyor’s symbols.” Remember that Sarah herself called them “bulls eyes” in her self-congratulatory tweet on November 4, 2010.
— Just four days after the shootings, before a single victim had been buried, this: “I wish there had been one more gun there that day, in the hands of a responsible person and that’s all I have to say,” Representative Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, said, brushing away a question about potentially revisiting the gun control issue.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) came to much the same conclusion, claiming that “if there had been guns there for people to defend themselves with, perhaps the carnage could have been less.” http://tinyurl.com/4bd5m7m
— Obviously, Franks and King didn’t care that one man almost shot the innocent person who was holding the weapon used to gun down nineteen people that day:
Joe Zamudio rushed to the scene and saw a man with a gun — but he wasn’t the shooter.
— In what was obviously a preemptive move (lest Congress get any bleeding-heart liberal ideas about new gun controls laws), sixteen days after the Tucson shootings the National Rifle Association posted an editorial from the Washington Examiner on its website entitled “Second Amendment is Insurance Against Government Tyranny.”The piece states,
— On February 1, 2011, five South Dakota lawmakers introduced legislation that would require any adult 21 or older to buy a firearm “sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense.”
— On February 11, 2011, Texas state senator Jeff Wentworth introduced a bill to give college students and professors the right to carry guns on campus, saying, “It’s strictly a matter of self-defense…”
— In mid-February, Mother Jones online reporter Adam Weinstein tweeted that riot police in Wisconsin had been ordered to clear union protesters and supporters from the Capitol. A twitter follower who was subsequently identified as Wisconsin Attorney General Jeff Cox, replied “Use live ammunition.” When confronted by Weinstein, Cox tweeted back that the demonstrators were “political enemies” and “thugs” who were “physically threatening legally elected officials” and further said, “You’re damned right I advocate deadly force.”
— March 7, 2011, Sarah Palin said that the fourteen Democratic senators who left Wisconsin should be fired. In an interview with Fox News’ Justice with Judge Jeanine, Palin again used her favorite violent slogan to utter, “They’ve retreated, not reloaded.”
— In an article on March 4, 2010, The Guardian wrote:
And in Conclusion…
I firmly believe that the NRA and the U.S. Supreme Court should be held responsible for the continued, and ever growing, gun violence and gun-violent rhetoric in this country. This unholy partnership has given license to the far-right extremists to act out their aggressions with guns, and we find ourselves living in an increasingly dangerous environment because of it. (This does not, however, excuse the elected progressives who have not done nearly enough to stem their power.)
We can look forward, I’m afraid, to more gun violence leading up to, and beyond, the 2012 elections. The far right has wrapped itself in the cloak of the Second Amendment and arrogantly proclaims their status as patriots, heroes, and Real Americans.
And if you disagree with them, they’ll shoot you.