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Law Enforcement Alliance of America, NRA front group
A front group has received at least $8 million from the National Rifle Association, the gun industry's mouthpiece, and has worked to undermine sensible gun-control legislation for more than 20 years, according to the Center for American Progress. The Law Enforcement Alliance of America, which claims to represent the interests of the "average cop," spends much of its money "electing judges and state attorneys general who are tough on crime—unless those crimes involve violations of gun control laws," writes Billy Corriher.
[LEAA] was founded with funding from the NRA in 1991, while Congress was debating the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. Police associations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police had come out strongly in favor of the Brady Act, and relations with the NRA were strained after the NRA opposed a 1986 bill to ban “cop killer” bullets that can pierce body armor. So the NRA founded the Law Enforcement Alliance of America and claimed that it represented the “average cop”—who supposedly opposed gun control.

Because the Law Enforcement Alliance of America refuses to disclose the sources of its funding, it is difficult to discern how much money the NRA has given the organization. The NRA’s tax documents, however, reveal that it gave at least $2 million to the alliance between 2004 and 2010. Previous reports indicate that the NRA donated $500,000 annually to the organization from 1995 to 2004, which would total more than $6 million.

The LEAA's website contains little real information about the organization, whose president is James A. Fotis, a 66-year-old Virginian.

Much of that money and funding from other sources have wound up backing political candidates for judgeships and attorneys general. The LEAA is organized as a nonprofit and doesn't by law have to make public its funding sources. Said Robert Spitzer, who has written The Politics of Gun Control and three other books on the subject: “People pay less attention to state politics than they to do national politics or local politics. That’s been fertile ground for the NRA.” Continue reading below the fold to see how LEAA has operated.

The LEAA has:

• opposed background checks and efforts to keep guns out of the hands of people on the Terrorist Watchlist.

• switched to electing state judges and attorneys general after losing some lawsuits early on. In Mississippi, it spent millions on ads to elect three judges and half a million in 2012 alone to elect a judge to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

• selected candidates for judges, prosecutors and attorneys general who it knew would support broader gun rights and reduce the rights of criminal defendants

• apparently received money from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce so the business lobby could steathily back candidates in some races

• funded numerous rancid attack ads against candidates it opposed, including Justice Oliver Diaz in a 2008 contest for the Mississippi Supreme Court. Incumbent Diaz was defeated by Justice Randy “Bubba” Pierce, who received $660,000 from LEAA. One of the ads called him a "rapist" and a "baby-killer" for his dissents in a case in which the majority refused to allow a DNA test of a defendant and one in which he sought a stay of execution until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.

• funded attack ads in 2001 that helped Republicans take over the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

The controversial attack ads in Pennsylvania came just months after a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Nafis Jefferson, a 7-year-old child killed after another child found a gun and fired it at his head. The victim’s family sued the Philadelphia gun store which had sold “at least ten guns” to an illegal gun trafficker who resold them to “convicted criminals, drug users and dealers”—who could not purchase guns legally or wanted to “avoid a paper trail.” The suit was settled a few years later, after the alliance helped to elect Justice Eakin—therefore securing a Republican majority—to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Damage caused by NRA lobbying and the organization's direct and indirect support for candidates is not limited to the realm of guns. The organization has weighed in from a right-wing perspective on health care, campaign finance, credit-card regulations, immigration and Supreme Court nominees. Its efforts to get LEAA started and its continued financing of the organization has an impact that goes well beyond what the memberships of both organizations signed up for.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 09:38 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA, Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA), and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yikes... nt (12+ / 0-)

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 09:42:35 AM PST

  •  Puts the lie to the claims that "Oh, I support the (9+ / 0-)

    NRA and Democratic ideals," doesn't it...

  •  another reason judges on ballots are so important (23+ / 0-)

    yet many voters don't know squat about judicial candidates.

    "It is in the shelter of each other that people live." Irish Proverb

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 09:58:29 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the info, MB. (8+ / 0-)

    I have been remiss in keeping up with the shenanigans in my state - there are so many I lose count...

    Everyone, rich or poor, deserves a shelter for the soul. -- Sam Mockbee ~~~For handmade silver jewelry, click here.~~~

    by Lorinda Pike on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 10:17:27 AM PST

  •  Their crowning achievement was Heller v. DC (14+ / 0-)

    State and local level assault weapons bans have been upheld in court for decades. The scope of the Second Amendment was addressed in nearly 200 federal and state appellate cases. These decisions uniformly rejected Second Amendment challenges to firearms laws. The U.S. Supreme Court had numerous opportunities to review these lower court decisions and consistently refused to do so. The federal assault weapons ban was in place for ten years and never challenged.

    Heller case was first dismissed in district court. Then it was appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. That court ruled for Heller 2 to 1. The two in the majority were appointed by Reagan and George W. Bush. The one dissenter wrote that the Second Amendment relates to the Militia of the States only.

    The Supreme Court's 5 conservative members ruled, in an activist decision, that Second Amendment applies to individuals, not just state militia as written.

    •  It builds on Miller (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oldpunk

      Miller was a case that was the previous time that the Supreme Court touched a gun case.  It involved the possession of a sawed off shotgun (>18.5" barrel).  Because one defendant died and the other plead guilty before it could be fully litigated one wonders how it would have turned out.  

      However:  

      "In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument."
       

      Had this been fully litigated, I think that the outcome would have ended up looking something like this:  Weapons suitable for militia duty (public service/national defence) would be legal but criminals/habitual drug users/persons adjudicated insane could be barred from possessing arms as no right is absolute.  Arms that can not be naturally used for public purposes (small handguns like inexpensive .32 Spl revolvers and the later Lorcin/Raven/etc automatics along with Auto and Burglar Shotguns would not be constitutionally protected).  Machine guns, as not being individual weapons (even today true machine guns are crew-serviced weapons) and the court wold have figured out a way to leave the NFA prohibitions in place given the labor radicalism of the time.  

      Under capitalism man exploits man, under communism the roles are reversed.

      by DavidMS on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 08:16:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  An academic side and a practical side (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cocinero

      On the academic side, the legal history of firearms rights is fascinating and far more elaborate and nuanced than any advocate wants you to know.

      On the practical side, Heller doesn't rule out regulations, even strict ones, as long as they're short of a total ban.

      Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

      by Dogs are fuzzy on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 11:10:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DefendOurConstitution, mrblifil

    So this is part of how they avoid pissing off the cops. They don't mind picking on prosecutors, as lawyers are seldom revered...

    “Now, I can imagine the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow morning: 'More guns,' you’ll claim, 'are the NRA’s answer to everything!'" -- Wayne LaPierre

    by tytalus on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 10:33:00 AM PST

  •  This is not new, they have been stacking the court (4+ / 0-)

    systems (at every level) for decades now.

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 10:46:02 AM PST

    •  Repubs block & hold judicial appointments (3+ / 0-)

      for Democratic presidents. Then howl about straight up or down votes when Republican presidents are in office. It's been going on as long as I've been paying attention to politics (since Reagan). I'd like to see the numbers between Reagan/Bush I/Bush II vs Clinton & Obama.

      "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

      by solesse413 on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 12:43:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think part of it is... (0+ / 0-)

        when Democrats get into power, they want to make progress; Republicans want to prevent change.  Therefore Democrats are more focused on passing legislation, changing public policy, etc... and Republicans are more focused on controlling and manipulating the levers of power that make that possible.

        I wish we had a better ground game and strategy with respect to judicial appointments, state races for AG and state supreme court judges, etc.  

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 01:17:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Villifying the NRA seems to make them stronger. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas, DavidMS, oldpunk

    I do not support the NRA in any way, shape, or form, for exactly the reasons Meteor puts forth. Their right wing agenda does great damage to our Country, and the firearms community.
     But, many people are signing their membership roles because of the recent push for more controls. Even liberal firearms owners are doing this because they see no alternatives for representing their views on ownership. Right or wrong, this is happening. They have more money to propagandize.
     I see people espouse signing up in order to take the organization back, but they don't realize the Organizational rules that prevent that from happening.
     The backlash against them has allowed Democratic Congressional members some leeway, but very few, if any Republicans. In those States, and Districts where Democrats might make a seat gain, this issue could prevent that from happening.
     I am not a member. My brother in law once signed me up, as a present. I did not renew, and yet, 15 years later, still receive their stupid mailings. They are persistent.
     I am as frustrated as the next person over this issue. Everyday I wish there was an alternative group.

    "The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced." -Zappa My Site

    by meagert on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 11:32:42 AM PST

    •  The best answer I've heard (7+ / 0-)

      is that they really represent the Gun Manufacturers rather than their members..

    •  So what would make them weaker? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tytalus

      If pushing gun control is scary and bad and leads to increased membership and losses at the polls (your theory not mine), what is the solution? Abandon all gun control advocacy for fear of making Daddy mad?

      •  Vilification is mere abuse (0+ / 0-)

        I prefer to bust their myths, undermine their claims, and show their preaching doesn't match what they practice. And also vilify them, but by that point I think it's deserved.  :)

        “Now, I can imagine the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow morning: 'More guns,' you’ll claim, 'are the NRA’s answer to everything!'" -- Wayne LaPierre

        by tytalus on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 12:36:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Who's vilifying who? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tytalus, Miggles

          I'm not aware of the NRA being treated to unfair invective, or being cursed at for the sake of cursing. Is it vilification, in the wake of a tragedy, to strongly deplore suggestions of armed volunteers manning every school? Is it vilification to assert that the NRA does not bother a jot with the perspective of victims of gun violence?

          NRA are not the victims here, and nobody is joining the ranks of the NRA because mean liberals are treating them unfairly.

          •  Maybe I should have replied to meagert (0+ / 0-)

            directly; vilifying was their idea. I don't think anything I've said of them was slander, but cursing out, invective, that's a form of abuse. I called it deserved, certainly not unfair. Angry, intemperate perhaps, but not unfair. I think it's justified. Righteous fury, even. Hope that's clear.

            “Now, I can imagine the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow morning: 'More guns,' you’ll claim, 'are the NRA’s answer to everything!'" -- Wayne LaPierre

            by tytalus on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 01:05:52 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Do you consider the invective fair, then? (0+ / 0-)

            I would argue that calling for them to be classified as a terrorist organization goes beyond normal vigorous political fighting, as does "Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids did you kill today?".

            Fair criticism is what you did just now, objecting to their proposals and attitudes.

            Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

            by Dogs are fuzzy on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 11:16:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I honestly believe (4+ / 0-)

        there's very few new laws or regulations that would have any large impact on reducing the numbers, in any near future.
         The only thing ever proven to reduce violence effectively is economic and social improvements.
         The decades of wars have created a mindset of militaristic amateurs, and copycats. Not to mention, any of the gun control proposals would take many decades to even put a dent in reduction of harm, if at all. Social improvements such as ending the drug war, improving inner city job opportunities, improvements to Mental Health, can be implemented just as quickly as any gun control measures, and would almost immediately have an effect on crime and violence. If harm is the true reason for the push on gun control than the quickest and more effective is economic and social reform.
         We need to increase Democratic seats, and I don't believe pushing for gun control achieves that.

        "The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced." -Zappa My Site

        by meagert on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 01:10:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Make them weaker? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miggles

        Exposing them as much as possible. The more you learn about them the uglier they are, IMO. The do the job of driving people away just fine when people understand what they really do and who they really stand for.

        "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

        by high uintas on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 07:42:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I've kinda moved my position on guns a bit.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrblifil

    Not for me personally, I'll never need nor want one. But I'm willing to work with people.

    My view is no civilian needs a gun. You may want a gun which is a big difference. An argument starting you need something probably won't go well with me unless it's like food, water, shelter, clothing, money.... A want I can work with.

    If you need a gun then perhaps you haven't explored all you're alternatives to keep yourself and/or you're family safe. To me, a gun is too much power for too cheap of a price. Like, have you really exhausted all your efforts? Like the trained dog didn't work? Security windows and doors? Private Security installed in your residence? Couldn't hit a deer with a Bow and Arrow or maybe a muzzle shot gun and the family went hungry? Or maybe it's just plain too expensive to do these things. But if it is too expensive, have you really tried? Cut down on some other expenses?

    Now if you want a gun then I would like to know why you do. It's not going to make me any safer so we can get rid of that argument to me. I don't buy it. You like to shoot? Why not rent one at a licensed range. You get paid to shoot? No problem. Register it. Dangerous neighborhood? Let's ask why it's dangerous to begin with. Want to hunt? Then check it out of your local range and return it when your done. I think the gun is more personal than community wellness. Want to own an AR-15? Fine, leave it at the local National Guard and you can retrieve it when the US is invaded. it sure isn't going to help you retain your Civil Liberties considering how many have been taken away since the AR ban was lifted.

    Work with me. Let me know "Why?" Maybe you know something that I haven't thought of...

  •  Two Inland Empire policemen were murdered (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, mrblifil, Mark Mywurtz

    this past week by a vengeful gunman (allegedly) carrying such bullets.

    Police associations such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police had come out strongly in favor of the Brady Act, and relations with the NRA were strained after the NRA opposed a 1986 bill to ban “cop killer” bullets that can pierce body armor.
     These sonsofbastards belong in the ninth circle of hell.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 11:40:44 AM PST

    •  The local gun club (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ratcityreprobate

      posits there is nothing special about the use of these bullets whatsoever and uses an image of hollow points as their DKos Group Logo. Site management similarly views this messaging as A-OK.

      •  You know nothing about bullets (4+ / 0-)

        Hollowpoints are frangible.  By their very design they "blow up" and won't penetrate well, and that includes body armor.  If they strike pavement, concrete, etc., they have a tendency to come apart and they will lessen the chance of injury to bystanders.  Solid bullets tend to penetrate, travel further after striking, and to ricochet.  Hollowpoints are outlawed for military use because they cause more tissue damage, should they strike a human body.  Military ammo is "ball ammunition", which is a solid bullet encased in a copper coating.  However, with light bullets and high velocity cartridges (such as the 5.56 NATO), the ball ammunition tends to still fragment and tumble when striking, so much of the damage resembles the strike of a hollow point.

        Now for the test:  Which bullet is most likely to penetrate body armor?

        A.  Hollow Point

        B.  Solid

        Note:  
        Anyone with a bullet mold and a pound of lead can pour a lot of solid bullets.  

        Hope you learned something about bullets.

      •  Since you're bringing up technical issues (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ban nock, happy camper

        Hollow points are no better at going through armor.

        Armor comes in different thicknesses and capabilities, and if you look at the tables of "Threat Levels" for which armor is certified, you'll notice that some quite ordinary civilian ammunition, not designed for armor piercing, is only stoppable by the heaviest armor.

        Now, if somebody designs ammunition that goes through armor better than something else of the same weight and speed, that's different. That's something a lot of people will be happy to restrict.

        Freedom isn't free. Patriots pay taxes.

        by Dogs are fuzzy on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 11:28:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  any hunting rifle will go through body armor (0+ / 0-)

        when using the cheap military surplus bullets sold by the thousands. Cop killer is as useful as assault weapon.

        How big is your personal carbon footprint?

        by ban nock on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 04:52:08 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Don't take away my freedoms and liberties!!! (5+ / 0-)
    ... after the NRA opposed a 1986 bill to ban “cop killer” bullets that can pierce body armor. So the NRA founded the Law Enforcement Alliance of America and claimed that it represented the “average cop”—who supposedly opposed gun control.
    Yeah, I'm sure cops are in favor of the public sale of bullets that can pierce their bullet-proof vests.

    BUT WHEN ONLY COPS HAVE THESE BULLETS, THEN WE'LL BE SUBJECT TO THE TYRANNY OF THE GOVERNMENT!!!!!

    Or something...

  •  Did the NRA got the AP to remove a similar piece? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrblifil

    Wow, this is weird.

    In January, I read and bookmarked "INFLUENCE GAME: NRA reaches into courthouses to defend gun rights" but the bookmark doesn't work anymore.

    So I googled the title and got lots of hits. Problem is, most of them redirect here or simply don't work anymore.

    I did find one link that works. Here's an excerpt:

    The National Rifle Association has enjoyed high-profile success over the years in shaping gun-rights legislation in Congress and statehouses, in part by campaigning to defeat lawmakers who defied the group.

    Now, the NRA has added a lesser-known strategy to protect its interests: opposing President Barack Obama's judicial nominees whom it sees as likely to enforce gun-control laws. In some cases, the group's opposition has kept jobs on federal benches unfilled.

    Still in its early stages, the effort is a safety net to ensure that federal courthouses are stocked with judges who are friendly to gun rights, should gun restrictions somehow get through the group's first line of defense on Capitol Hill. The NRA also weighs in on state judicial elections and appointments, another fail-safe if the massacre of young children at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school leads to tighter gun-control measures.

    I can only guess that the NRA got the AP to pull down its article. What other covert influence do they have?

    I'm a Democrat - I believe that government has a positive role to play in the lives of ordinary people.

    by 1BQ on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 12:02:56 PM PST

  •  The gun lobby (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, Mark Mywurtz

    is very busy all over the political spectrum. From funding candidates to fielding candidates, while influencing the selection and election of judges. They are very good at manipulating opinion by hiding their influence while manufacturing coordinated efforts designed to mimic "grass roots" support. They also put a lot of effort into message control on the internet. And not just Facebook and Twitter, neither...

  •  GOP has focused on judiciary since 1985, or b4. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    high uintas
  •  We need to out the NRA and their shill (0+ / 0-)

    organizations then rupture their lyin' crap with the armor piercing truth they can't tolerate.  Once people know what they are about and we have strong candidates to run, the vote will be taken.  They can't stand up to Newtown this time by calling it "the Conn. Effect", little kids being torn apart by rapid fire bullets along with their teachers will not evaporate into an Effect.  They will keep on arising until we get legislation to deal with gun safety.  Every time Mr. NRA speaks he defames and denigrates these innocents.  He begins to look  like he stashed evil in his pocket.

  •  MB (0+ / 0-)

    One of my friends asked me a question I couldn't answer. He wanted to know if anyone who had a record for pot possession or a medical marijuana card would be prohibited from buying a weapon. I don't know how to answer him. Do you?

    "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

    by high uintas on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 07:33:37 PM PST

  •  Elected judges are a scourge (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli

    They completely defeat any notion of impartiality and justice, especially when given almost complete immunity from civil prosecution.

    As much as I disrespect everything that has come out of the Arizona state gov in recent years, they have what appears to be a somewhat sane approach to vetting and appointing judges.

    YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

    by raincrow on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 07:43:56 PM PST

  •  so cynical - their using the same acronym as an (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dogs are fuzzy

    actual organization, not unlike the NOM, ACLJ, etc.

    The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) was a U.S. federal agency within the U.S. Dept. of Justice. It administered federal funding to state and local law enforcement agencies, and funded educational programs, research, state planning agencies, and local crime initiatives.

    The LEAA was established by the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and was abolished in 1982. Its predecessor agency was the Office of Law Enforcement Assistance (1965–1968). Its successor agencies were the Office of Justice Assistance, Research, and Statistics (1982–1984) and the Office of Justice Programs (1984–).

    Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ "We're like a strip club with a million bouncers and no strippers." (HBO's Real Time, January 18, 2013)

    by annieli on Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 08:03:54 PM PST

  •  I think someone hacked their website (0+ / 0-)

    I went to the LEAA website to see if any elected officials I'm familiar with had been endorsed by them.  The main page looks normal but just about every link then has the Gettysburg Address and nothing else on it!  and the text keeps repeating.

    also saw on Google that the Brady campaign had outed this group back in 2000.  But we have to keep hearing these things.

    Here in Maryland, with a Democratic controlled legislature, gun violence legislation is being debated.  The NRA is getting its people to turn up at every public event, they are bombarding legislators with messages; I hear it's 6:1 anti-legislation in what the state senators and delegates are hearing.  

  •  Hey hey NRA (0+ / 0-)

    How many kids did you kill today?

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