In Senate hearings last week, LaPierre portrayed life in the United States as one long horror movie. “What people all over the country fear today is being abandoned by their government,” he said. “If a tornado hits, if a hurricane hits, if a riot occurs, that they’re going to be out there alone, and the only way they’re going to protect themselves, in the cold, in the dark, when they’re vulnerable, is with a firearm.”Yardena Schwartz at MSNBC:
He left out the zombies.
With so many members of Congress already bought and paid for, it’s understandable that the NRA would feel a measure of confidence. But I believe the pro-gun lobby is seriously overplaying its hand, and that the wind has shifted.
In the current debate over gun control, it has become conventional wisdom that the NRA’s opposition to stricter gun laws stands in the way of President Obama’s push for new gun regulation. The theory goes that senators and congressmen refuse to stand up to the NRA because the powerful gun lobby will make sure they lose their next election. But now that argument is being tested, and as it turns out, the power of the NRA may be more myth than reality. [...] “It just isn’t the case like it may have been two decades ago that if you take on the NRA, there’s a political price to pay. In fact, they do a lot worse than they ever did before,” [Democratic Senator Chris] Murphy told Mitchell Reports. The more people know about the NRA’s actual influence, Murphy believes, the more likely the president is to get his gun control measures through Congress. “I think that people are going to be willing to vote for common-sense gun legislation, in part because people are seeing that the NRA is a bit of a paper tiger compared to their reputation down here.”For more punditry on gun control and other issues, let's head down below the fold.
Glenn Kessler gives "three Pinnochios" to the NRA's talking point that there are over 20,000 gun laws on the books:
By any reasonable measure, this is suspicious figure. Its origin is murky, and it is inconceivable that the same number of gun laws would exist now as some five decades ago. Moreover, even experts who favor the NRA’s agenda have their doubts about the figure or its relevance. It may well be the case that there are “thousands” of laws but what does that mean? What does counting statutes, or local regulations, say about the quality or effectiveness of those laws?Over at The Los Angeles Times, Congressman Adam Schiff (D) explains his new bill:
In 2005, when Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, granting the gun industry immunity in state and federal court from civil liability in most negligence and products liability actions, the National Rifle Assn. called passage "vitally important" and fought hard for it. Although there are exceptions in the law, it has been broadly interpreted to preclude most negligence lawsuits. The result is that — unlike the makers of chain saws, knives, automobiles, drugs, alcohol or even cigarettes — gun manufacturers and sellers have a lesser obligation to act with reasonable care for public safety. [...]Lee Drutman and Alexander Furnas at the Sunlight Foundation:
We need to pierce the liability shield that the NRA and gun manufacturers have helped build for bad actors through this law. That's why I have introduced legislation — the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act — to ensure that the victims of gun violence are allowed to have their day in court. [...] No industry deserves the right to act with reckless disregard for the public safety.
To better understand how a vote on gun control legislation might play out, we collected relevant data on 26 senators (19 Democrats, 2 Independents and 5 Republicans) who we saw as potentially conflicted on a gun vote. (For this, we include any Republican who didn’t get at least an A rating from the NRA, and any Democrat who didn’t get an F rating.)The NRA is counting on riding its reputation as an electoral force in order to swing key members of Congress. But as Senator Murphy and so many others point out, the NRA's effectiveness in elections isn't much to crow about. Members of Congress -- especially those on the fence who represent swing districts -- need to know that NRA support in the wake of Sandy Hook is a liability, not an asset. It's why the race in IL-02 is so important. It's a race that's become an referendum on the NRA. Read the latest fundraising push from kos here.
As a start, we note that 40 Republicans either have an A or A+ rating from the NRA, and 34 Democrats get an F. We are pretty sure we know how these 74 senators will vote on any gun reform legislation. That puts gun rights supporters one vote away from the 41 votes they would need to filibuster any legislation. This is not a great starting point for advocates of gun control.
At The St. Louis Dispatch, Tony Messenger pens a blistering, must-read piece against "Sheriff Joe-wannabees:"
When rural county sheriffs like Michael Dixon of Osage County fire off emotionally charged missives proclaiming that they will fight federal overreach on gun control laws, that’s generally good retail politics, the kind that gets a honk and a wave from a gun-toting, pickup-driving voter. But there are consequences to painting oneself as the protector of one tortured interpretation of one sentence in the Constitution while treating the rest of the document as though it were written in invisible ink.LZ Granderson, at CNN, writing about the skeet-shooting fauxtroversy and all of the other trumped up attacks from the right:
Consider Arizona’s crusty old Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was harmless enough when putting prisoners in pink underwear, but not so much when he found himself in violation of numerous federal laws for basically ignoring those parts of the Constitution that don’t involve protecting guns or trying to prove whether the president was born in this country.
So when Mr. Dixon and others like him foolishly suggest that they will stand against any and all gun control actions taken by the federal government, they do little more than explain to their constituents how little they know of the Constitution.
[T]he next time the NRA or Trump or whoever else feels the need to question Obama's cred, instead of posting pictures of him shooting a gun or going to church or what have you, he should post a graphic showing he's the first president since Eisenhower to capture at least 51% of the popular vote twice.
That mandate from the American people is really all the cred he needs.
Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, calls for a (long overdue) national discussion about mental illness:
We often fail to recognize the signs of mental illness, especially in young people. And when we do see those signs, our first reaction is often not to reach out, but to turn away. This is a culture we all contribute to. And it's one that all of us -- community leaders, teachers, pastors, health providers, parents, neighbors and friends -- need to help change if we want to reduce the tragic burden of untreated mental health conditions.
That's why President Obama has called for a national dialogue on mental health that will be kicked off in the coming weeks. This dialogue will seek to address the culture of silence and negative perceptions of mental illness that keep so many of our nation's young people from seeking care. It will challenge each of us to do our part to create communities where young people and their families understand how important mental health is to positive development and feel comfortable asking for help when they need it.
The good news is that when people do seek help, we have much more effective treatments and supportive services than we did 50 years ago. The proof is the tens of millions of Americans with mental health conditions who are living healthy lives and contributing to their communities. But people will only take advantage of this progress if they are not afraid to seek help. Now is the time to work together to banish those fears and bring mental health out of the shadows once and for all.