The NRA-- A Cancer On The Soul Of American Politics
Darcy Burner & Henry-- why she'll never sell out to the NRA thugs
I've had a lot more respect and admiration for former Senator Russ Feingold than for almost anyone elected to the U.S. Senate in my lifetime. I remember when the NRA endorsed the extreme right sociopath running against him in 2010, Ron Johnson-- unquestionably one of the most destructive and least qualified men to have won a Senate seat in my lifetime. At the time I wrote about my biggest disappointment in Feingold-- his adherence to a pro-gun agenda:
No politician is ever perfect-- and that includes even someone as good as Feingold. I don't even begrudge him his support for a bunch of Wisconsin yahoos running around the woods shooting deer with AK47s if that's what most people up there want. But in Washington, DC, the only thing that gets hunted walks upright on two legs and when Feingold favored overturning local ordinances controlling guns-- and was willing to deny Washington residents congressional representation over the issue... well it reinforced my overall feeling about people who chose politics as a career. And it didn't save him from a strange non-endorsement.
Now, keep in mind that the NRA has a practice, "what it calls 'an incumbent-friendly' policy, which holds that if two candidates are equally supportive of gun rights, the incumbent gets the nod." And, in fact, the NRA announced endorsements for 58 Democratic incumbents.
So even though the NRA helped Johnson defeat Feingold, the organization was unable to help dozens of conservative, pro-gun Democrats who it did endorse, stave off defeat. Among those swept away in the Great Blue Dog Apocalypse of 2010 were NRA endorsees Glenn Nye (Blue Dog-VA), Frank Kratovil (Blue Dog-MD), Zack Space (Blue Dog-OH), Travis Childers (Blue Dog-MS), Bobby Bright (Blue Dog-AL), Chris Carney (Blue Dog-PA), Ike Skelton (MO), and John Salazar (Blue Dog-CO).
When considering which candidates to endorse, Blue America doesn't take gun policies into consideration. That's gnawed at my innards for years and made me feel partially responsible for the sick political malaise that infects this country in regard to the question. There was never a question in my mind Friday that the real murderers in Aurora were out political elites too cowardly and craven to take on the NRA-- even when their own constituents tell them they want more rational gun control policies.
On Twitter Friday, starting in the morning and never ending, we were treated to a parade of hypocrites from both parties offering their prayers for the victims and their families. President Obama's statement sounded like he was commemorating the deaths of people who died in a natural disaster rather than at the hands of a demented gunman. Maybe it was what he "had to say" but it made me sick, like the rest of the responses from our political elite, although moderate Democrat, Ed Perlmutter, who represents Aurora, did pledge to work to renew the ban on assault rifles. CNN, ever the fount of conventional wisdom, immediately reported that gun politics are bad politics for Democrats.
After the 1999 Columbine shooting, Democratic Vice President Al Gore played a central role in trying to pass ill-fated gun control legislation. On the campaign trail during his 2000 presidential run, he argued for "common-sense gun safety measures."
Democratic strategists said they believe Gore and other Democrats lost critical votes in rural America by pushing for stricter gun laws.
So, Democratic Party leaders began to recruit candidates who could win those largely red districts and states, candidates who ran on support for gun rights.
Jim Manley worked in the Senate for more than 20 years as a top aide to Democrats Sen. Ted Kennedy and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He witnessed the change up close.
"Democrats finally figured out that this was an issue that they were getting walloped on in many Western, Southern states and many swing states," Manley said. "So they began a subtle shift to try to coordinate and/or get more pro-gun Democrats to run."
"For many Democrats, it's smart politics not to get into the gun control debate," he said.
So, even though President Bill Clinton signed an assault weapons ban in 1994 with fanfare, it lapsed in 2004 without much of a fight.
Somehow CNN forgot to mention that almost all those pro-gun conservative Democrats Rahm Emanuel and the DCCC recruited subsequently lost their seats because disappointed, betrayed grassroots Democrats and left-leaning independents refused to come out to the polls to vote for them. Early Friday-- at least on twitter-- I saw only two political leaders standing right up and calling for the kinds of more reasonable gun control laws that puts you on the NRA enemies list: NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Washington state congressional candidate Darcy Burner. Darcy-- a Blue America endorsed candidate with a tough primary against a gaggle of more conservative Democrats next month-- followed up with an e-mail to her supports. I'd like to share it.
Earlier today, a gunman walked into a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, where people were watching the midnight showing of the new Batman movie. He fired gas canisters into the crowd, and then opened fire. At least 12 people are dead and 59 people are injured. My heart and prayers go out to all of them.
On the day Gabby Giffords was shot, I was picking up my son Henry from a lesson when I got the text message saying there had been a shooting. I’d campaigned with Gabby in 2006. Henry didn’t understand why I’d stopped getting into the car and started crying.
Walking back from a haircut the other day, I passed Café Racer, where on May 30th a gunman walked in and killed four people.
It's time we had an adult conversation in this country about guns.
On January 17, 1989, a gunman in Stockton, California walked onto a playground and opened fire, killing 5 children and injuring 30 more.
On July 1, 1993, a gunman in San Francisco walked into a law office and opened fire, killing 8 and injuring 6.
On April 20, 1999, two gunmen in Columbine, Colorado walked into their high school and opened fire, killing 13 people and injuring 21 others.
On January 16, 2002, a gunman in Virginia walked into a law school and opened fire, killing 3 and injuring 3.
On July 8, 2003, a gunman in Mississippi walked into a factory and opened fire, killing 6 and injuring 8.
On March 21, 2005, a gunman in Minnesota walked into a high school and opened fire, killing 7 and injuring 5.
On November 20, 2005, a gunman in Tacoma walked into the mall and opened fire, injuring 6.
On March 25, 2006, a gunman in Seattle walked into a party and opened fire, killing 6 and injuring 2.
On February 12, 2007, a gunman in Utah walked into a mall and opened fire, killing 5 and injuring 4.
On April 16, 2007, a gunman in Virginia walked onto the Virginia Tech campus and opened fire, killing 32 people and wounding 17 others.
On December 5, 2007, a gunman in Nebraska walked into a mall and opened fire, killing 8 and injuring 4.
On December 9, 2007, a gunman in Colorado Springs walked onto a church parking lot and opened fire, killing 2 and wounding 3.
On February 7, 2008, a gunman in Missouri walked into a city council meeting and opened fire, killing 5 and wounding 2.
On February 14, 2008, a gunman in Illinois walked onto a college campus and opened fire, killing 5 and injuring 17.
On June 25, 2008, a gunman in Kentucky walked into a factory and opened fire, killing 5 and injuring 1.
On January 24, 2009, a gunman in Portland walked up to a nightclub and opened fire, killing 2 and injuring 7.
On March 29, 2009, a gunman in North Carolina walked into a retirement home and opened fire, killing 8 and injuring 2.
On August 4, 2009, a gunman in a suburb of Pittsburgh walked into a fitness club and opened fire, killing 3 and injuring 9.
On November 5, 2009, a gunman at Fort Hood in Texas walked into a medical center and opened fire, killing 13 and injuring 29.
On November 29, 2009, a gunman in Lakewood, Washington walked into a coffee shop and killed 4 police officers.
On January 7, 2010, a gunman in St Louis walked into a power plant and opened fire, killing 3 and injuring 6.
On January 12, 2010, a gunman in Georgia walked into a truck rental place and opened fire, killing 3 and injuring 2.
On February 12, 2010, a gunwoman in Alabama stood up in a college faculty meeting and opened fire, killing 3 and injuring 3.
On August 3, 2010, a gunman in Connecticut walked into a warehouse and opened fire, killing 8 and injuring 2.
On August 7, 2011, a gunman in Ohio broke into his girlfriend’s house and opened fire, killing 7 and injuring 1.
On September 6, 2011, a gunman in Nevada walked into a pancake restaurant and opened fire, killing 4 and injuring 7.
On October 5, 2011, a gunman in Cupertino, California walked into a quarry where people were working and opened fire, killing 3 and injuring 7.
Sadly, I could go on.
But the numbers don’t tell the stories. These were people. Rachel Scott was a 17-year-old aspiring writer and actress who wanted to change the world through small acts of kindness. Dave Sanders was a 47-year-old teacher and girls basketball coach who was shot and killed while trying to evacuate students. Cassie Bernall was hiding under a table praying. Jack Berman was a lawyer who founded a program to help homeless people find housing. John Scully died while shielding his newlywed wife with his own body. Drew Keriakedes and Joe Albanese were musicians with wicked senses of humor. Every one of the hundreds of people shot in the incidents I list above had dreams and aspirations, laughed and cried, had friends and neighbors and parents.
As a country, though, we have not had a real conversation about guns in many, many years. The National Rifle Association (NRA) threatens the career of any politician who so much as opens the conversation. As a consequence, our country has not discussed assault weapons-- which have no use except killing large numbers of people in massacres like the ones I’ve listed. We have not discussed the fact that anyone can buy a gun at a gun show without any background check, even if they have a history of criminal violence. We have not discussed the expiration of the ban on large clips, which allow shooters to kill more people in a shorter time because they don’t have to reload. We have not discussed what a sensible, rational approach to regulating guns in our country might be.
It’s time we took steps to stop the mass killings.
It’s time we had an adult conversation about guns in this country. The NRA can go to hell.
In deepest sympathy,
Time to break the NRA stranglehold on American politics? Help Blue America put someone into Congress who isn't afraid to stand up for what we believe in. Please consder making a contribution to Darcy's campaign today.