Saturday, July 02, 2016

Ending The NRA's Reign Of Terror? Not While Paul Ryan Is Speaker Of The House


Since 1990, the gun manufacturers' lobbyists, like the NRA, have spent $32,458,492 in bribes to Congress, $27,627,767 of that to Republicans. Paul Ryan was only 20 then, driving a hot dog truck, and he wasn't elected to Congress until 1998. But he's made up for lost time. The only crook in the House who's taken more in gun lobbyist bribes than Ryan ($167,355) is Don Young of Alaska ($183,822). As you can probably surprise from the graphic above, he's in a tough spot. 92% of Americans want strong and effective background checks-- which his paymasters at the NRA oppose-- and 85% want to cut off sales of guns to suspected terrorists-- which is also opposed by his NRA allies. So what's a girl to do? 92% and 85% is a lot and it means that even in the reddest and most backward districts, most people are sick and tired of the conservative game-playing around gun violence and mass murders.

The Democrats have been refusing to allow the House to move forward with ordinary business until the problem is addressed. But the Republicans who have taken the $27,627,767 in bribes from the gun lobby, are just as firm that nothing be done at all to protect the country by jeopardizing the profits of the gun manufacturers. So next week Ryan has his version of a "compromise." The House will be allowed to vote on a gun bill written by NRA lobbyists and including a bill already rejected by the Senate that John Cornyn brought up, which allows the Attorney General to temporarily prevent someone from buying a gun, but only with "probable cause."

Yesterday Pelosi issued an official response to Ryan's silly maneuver, which doesn't even address closing the terrorist gun loophole. "All across America," she wrote, "families are demanding real action to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and suspected terrorists, not a toothless NRA bill that will do nothing to keep our communities safe. The American people cannot understand why Republicans want it to be easier for a suspected terrorist to buy a lethal weapon than to set foot on a plane. If you’re too dangerous to fly in America, you’re too dangerous to buy a gun in America-- simple as that. But a month after the worst mass shooting in American history, House Republicans are once again putting the NRA ahead of their responsibility to keep the American people safe. This bill is just the latest evidence that House Republicans have become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NRA. Americans are fed up with Republicans’ dangerous obstruction of bipartisan, commonsense gun violence legislation. Democrats will continue to push House Republicans to give the American people a vote on meaningful gun violence prevention measures that will save lives and protect our communities from terrorism: with expanded, strengthened background checks and meaningful No Fly, No Buy legislation."

Everything she says about Republicans being a "wholly-owned subsidiary of the NRA" is true, but her cause is not well-served by pretending that there are still equally heinous NRA-Democrats who she herself is funding, primarily Blue Dogs like Collin Peterson and Henry Cuellar. What the House should be voting on is a serious bill that Florida Democrat Alan Grayson introduced to ban assault weapons again.

After the mass shooting in Orlando's Pulse nightclub, Grayson sat down and wrote the Freedom From Fear Act , which is meant to reinstate the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban which Congress allowed to expire in 2004. Many of the victims-- 49 people murdered and 53 wounded in a matter of minutes-- lived in Grayson's district. The gunmen used a semi-automatic weapon making it easy for him to shoot over 100 people before they had any chance to escape.  The vast majority of Floridians and Americans agree that deadly military equipment like that gun are weapons of mass destruction and should never be in the hands of civilians. Grayson:
It was the weapon that made this possible. You can’t always know what is in people’s heads, we can’t always know what’s in people’s hearts, but we can know, and we do know what’s in people’s hands. That’s why I think we have to go back and re-institute the assault weapons ban.

The Freedom Form Fear bill reinstates two sections of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 that lapsed in 2004. One section restricts the manufacturing and possession of certain dangerous semi-automatic weapons, while the other lists the semi-automatic weapons included in the ban.

The Assault Weapon Ban was effective. Specifically, the use of assault weapons in mass shootings declined by more than two-thirds, nine years after the 1994 weapon ban was in place. In fact there were zero "mass murders, committed by lone-wolf terrorists, who had a foremost religious, racial or political background" in the U.S. the ten years the law was in effect.
Due south of Grayson's district is the sprawling South Florida district misrepresented by Mario Diaz-Balart, another GOP gun zombie. We reached Alina Valdes, a medical doctor who's running against him for the congressional seat and who supports the stand Grayson and Pelosi are taking. This is what she told us

With respect to guns, we need to use common sense regulations so those who want them can get them legally and those who don't can still feel safe and not deprived of LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. When people don't feel safe in their own neighborhoods, walking down the street, eating in a restaurant, or going to a club, we know that something needs to be done to protect the masses and not the few whose purpose is to kill and maim. The Second Amendment has been deemed as sacred but unfettered gun possession deprive us all of our liberty to live without fear. This is more basic to our rights as awarded in the Constitution than NRA sponsorship of bills protecting their interests to continue to sell as many deadly weapons, like assault rifles, that should only be available to the military from whence they came.

Congressman Grayson has proposed an excellent bill reinstating the assault weapons ban in the civilian population since studies (yes I know... those pesky FACTS) have shown that morbidity and mortality were markedly decreased during the ten years this law was in effect. We know this bill will never be brought to the floor of the House and even if it was, it would not pass. The solution is to use our power of the vote and retire these politicians who do not follow the will of the people. They want to appease the NRA because their campaigns receive large contributions to protect their interests, then maybe they should leave public service and go work in the private sector, where they can push products just to make large profits without any regard to the consequences that follow.

The solution is not more guns but common sense gun control with regulations such as an assault weapons ban, expanded background checks, eliminating the gun show and internet loopholes, "No Fly, No Buy." and decreasing the amount of bullets a clip can carry. This will give victims a fighting chance to escape and maybe "a good guy with a gun" would have a chance to get off a few rounds. My Republican career politician opponent in Florida's CD-25, Mario Diaz-Balart, is bought and paid for by the NRA and has not surprisingly voted no to any bill that restricts guns for use in the public sector. He is another corporate shill who does the bidding of those who pay to play and this needs to stop. The time has come to decide what kind of country we want to be and the only way to do this is to vote out those bought who undermine public safety just to make a few bucks.
You can help the campaigns of both Grayson and Valdes on the page that comes up when you click this thermometer:
Goal Thermometer

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