Who brought you to the dance?
In her NY Times piece, Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer in Washington and a director of the NRA spent very little time and space providing sound footing for the NRA’s undercutting the Manchin-Toomey gun control legislation. Instead she chose to chide the President for what she referred to as his “public temper tantrum” in the Rose Garden along with mocking New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $12 million dollar campaign to “Demand Action to End Gun Violence”.
If she thought the President’s temper tantrum was an isolated event she ought to check into the thousands of bloggers and millions of private citizen rages who have trashed the NRA and their gutless representatives in Congress in a more virulent manner than the Chief Executive did. And please Ms. Mitchell. $12 million is a spit in the bucket to fight for sane gun control in this country compared to the millions the NRA and other gun advocates have spent sustaining the status quo.
Though charging President Obama with “misstatements” in his speech following the Senate’s failure to pass the Manchin-Toomey bill, Ms. Mitchell makes a few herself. And let’s be clear too. This was a failure of the Senate, NOT a victory of the people, as Ms. Mitchell concludes.
The Manchin-Toomey bill failed with a 54 Senate majority supporting it. It was the excessive use of the filibuster by the GOP that sent the legislation to its death. The rules that were intended to give smaller states a bit more voice in the so-called “greatest deliberative body in the world” has become a joke when implemented by Republicans, ever since they lost their majority in 2008.
Something is terribly screwed up with our political system when a minority in this country has that much power and it speaks to the real issue that we should be focusing on So when Ms. Mitchell chortles about a Senate victory in her Op-ed piece, she’s essentially displaying her ignorance about how this bill was defeated.
The two misleading claims she argues against are 1) that this bill was a violation of the 2nd amendment and 2), there was “nothing in the legislation [that] would have prevented another Sandy Hook”. Let’s look at the second claim first.
The Cleta Mitchells of this country love to assert that Sandy Hook was a demonstration of how gun control, short of absolute prevention of gun ownership, did nothing to stop the innocent killings of 20 first graders and six adults. Why? Because Adam Lanza gained access to the weapons he used for the mass murder, NOT from the illegal sale and purchase of the weapons he used but because his Mom had purchased the weapons for herself.
The crime comes from the fact that she failed to store them in a manner that would have prevented her mentally unstable son from getting his hands on them. The guns Nancy Lanza owned were purchased from a licensed dealer where the law currently requires a background check on gun purchasers. So yes, the Manchin-Toomey bill had nothing in it that would have stopped Adam Lanza from doing his dirty deed, except maybe he would have killed fewer had he not also stolen his mom’s Bushmaster .223 caliber– model XM15-E2S rifle, like the one in the picture below. The Bushmaster .223 is an assault style weapon that can hold a 30-round magazine.
Sandy Hook is thus a distraction from what this gun legislation was really aimed at, which was to simply make it more difficult in the future for mass killings similar to the one in Aurora, Colorado, Tucson, Arizona and at Virginia Tech University to happen. It is a lame argument anyone would make that gun control measures like those in the Manchin-Toomey bill will stop most people from killing someone. But it is highly likely to prevent the mass murder killings we’ve seen over the last 30 years that allows a single person to kill higher numbers of people quicker because of their access to the fire power many police departments don’t have and is more likely to be found with military combat units.
Had the two individuals, one in China the day before the Sandy Hook killings and the other in Houston earlier this month used a gun in their assaults, many if not all of their victims would be dead now. As it happened though, their attempts at slaughter were done with a knife allowing many to escape and prevented life-threatening damage to the victims.
As to Ms. Mitchell’s claim about 2nd amendment rights being violated had this bill became law – BULLSHIT, pure and simple. The bill simply consisted of a comprehensive package that expands background checks for gun purchases, increases penalties against gun trafficking, and invests in school safety. None of this violates a person’s 2nd amendment right. In the 2005 Heller vs. D.C. case, gun-proponent and ultra-conservative justice Anton Scalia stated in the minority opinion that “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”
It’s not exactly gun ownership that concerns us
What Ms. Mitchell was falsely alluding to was that the bill would have created a registry of gun owners; a fear that zealous 2nd amendment advocates claim will be a slippery slope that will lead to the government taking away the guns people now possess. This entire notion is ludicrous since there was absolutely nothing in the bill that would even imply a permanent gun registry was part and parcel to the bill.
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who drafted the background check amendment, insist a registry is expressly prohibited.
The language of the proposal says the Justice Department “may not consolidate or centralize the records” on firearms sales or possession. It goes on to say nothing in the proposal would allow the establishment of a “federal firearms registry.” SOURCE
The only slippery slope that is in play here is the one we’ve been sliding down for some time now. When every poll out there has demonstrated that the majority of Americans wanted the regulations stated in the Manchin-Toomey bill and some that were not, yet those who represent us in Congress vote against our wishes, clearly our form of government has slipped from the democratic moorings we inherited some 200 years ago. Control now lies in the hands of special interests with vast financial resources and their lobbyists handmaidens. In this case, it is the NRA.
Over the years the National Rifle Association went from one that evolved out of necessity to properly train our military in good marksmanship back in the 19th century to an expanded role where it served the general public in gun safety awareness. By the end of the 1970’s however, a core group of people who represented an anti-government mindset and with strong connections to the gun industry began to take hold of the NRA leadership. What evolved was a belligerency that fought any and every sensible gun regulation that was aimed primarily to reduce gun violence in this country by keeping firearms out of the hands of those who posed the greatest threat to society.
How do you convince sensible people to allow this bizarre change to take place? Well, you lie and exaggerate claims by portraying government as the enemy. The NRA’s cause was aided greatly by the ultra-conservative takeover of the GOP following Ronald Reagan’s election. Reagan became convinced by his brain trust and financial backers that “government [was] not the solution to our problem, government [was] the problem”.
This meme carries back to the days following FDR’s election who instituted many of the social programs that lifted millions out of poverty and gave them some security in their old age. With the aid of these policies and those of the Truman administration following WWII, we built one of the strongest middle classes of all time. Production took off with high wages for labor while the wealthiest 1% endured their high income tax rate.
But from the 1970’s on, slowly and arduously, that wealthy elite worked to get their people elected to control the legislation that would eventually put them back in the driver’s seat. The high rate the wealthy paid went from 91% under Eisenhower to the 35% under Bill Clinton. In the mean time the average income earner watched as their jobs were shipped overseas to the cheaper labor markets as wages were cut here along with health and retirement benefits that allowed most Americans to improve their lot in life over their parents and retire secured.
But what most people saw was not businesses manipulating the rules behind the scenes but the lie made by wealthy entrepreneurs that they were being forced to cut jobs and wages by government regulation. They were aided in achieving their goals by first effectively casting all liberals as anti-American and anti-Christian and then made the guilt by association claim that the Democratic base is liberal and therefore all Democrats were essentially opposed to American values.
This brought in those poor white Southern contingencies and the mid-West bible thumpers, an alliance the GOP exploited to regain control of the Senate and the House which the Democrats had almost exclusively controlled since the days of FDR.
So what we’re left with here is a charade intended to conceal the real reason behind the NRA’s opposition to the bill – the age-old battle between the haves and have-nots. The need to concentrate the greatest wealth with the fewest people and thus the ultimate control of the political power. The gun lobby, headed by Cleta Mitchell’s beloved NRA, is just another link in a struggle that has been a part of mankind’s history since they broke the yoke of political power under the medieval Feudal system where landed gentry and royalty controlled the masses.
Capitalism portrays itself as the opportunity to make life better for those who work hard and play by the rules, but in reality it has substituted itself for the aristocratic tendencies of the feudal system. What most people fail to see is that working at all is becoming more difficult as so-called “job creators” send jobs to cheaper foreign labor markets and eliminate many others through technology that replaces manual labor. And the rules no longer favor the everyman. They favor the wealthiest, who spend exorbitant amounts of money to make sure their guy or gal gets the nomination and hopefully elected to public office.
The myth that we all have an opportunity to live the American dream has never been more exposed than it is now. The “socialist” label that FDR’s programs were labeled with by the rich in the 1930’s failed to convince enough people to reject them. But as John Steinbeck pointed out later, “Socialism never took root in America because the poor saw themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” This misperception continues today and allows the powerful wealth in this country to win over enough gullible people to help them fight their cause at a grass-roots level, albeit one that is funded by wealthy special interests.
The Horatio Alger success stories in this country are not that much unlike the dreams of the poor Irish catching the leprechaun and forcing them to reveal where the pot of gold is hidden. It’s a myth that exists in all cultures and is exploited by the wealthy to keep government casted as the enemy and away from the misguided efforts that have widened the income gap in this country to historical proportions.
It is this myth that Cleta Mitchell uses in her argument to find fault with sane gun control measures. Government is not only trying to take your constitutional rights away, she argues, but they are inadequate enforcing those laws already on the books aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of the wrong people. Never mind that there are no laws to cover those purchases outside of licensed dealers, where 40% of the gun sales occur. Don’t focus on that, focus on the smoke screen that the NRA is creating.
While some of us get caught up in that dog and pony show, those who are supposed to be above that and faithfully represent their constituency vote instead their fear of losing their job rather than doing the right thing. Greed is a strong force that too often knocks a good person to their knees and THAT is what the Senate’s failure to pass a sane gun control bill was really all about