Useful Pawns Of Bloomberg, Inc.

I address this to all the women (and men) who wear their red Moms Demand Action t-shirts. I realize that you think, though misguidedly, that you are doing something to promote gun control so as to stop the criminal misuse of firearms.

How does it feel to learn that you are nothing but a useful pawn in Mike Bloomberg’s quest for more and more political power?

From the (progressive) paper of record aka the New York Times who just did a long story on the interrelationship between Mike Bloomberg’s charitable giving and his political ambition.

Everytown is managed directly by one of Mr. Bloomberg’s close lieutenants, John Feinblatt, a former New York deputy mayor whose wedding Mr. Bloomberg officiated in 2011. Numerous people connected to the group said it channeled Mr. Bloomberg’s priorities, including his strong preference for working with both parties.

The organization came into existence through an almost corporate-style merger: Mr. Bloomberg already had a gun control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, but he needed a grass-roots army to compete with the National Rifle Association. So it joined forces with an existing activist group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, to form Everytown.

People involved in the group described being forced to communicate exclusively in canned talking points. Kate Ranta, shot twice by her ex-husband in front of her young son, was a member of Everytown’s network of survivors. She was asked to address a rally on the steps of the Capitol, along with her son. Standing beside Nancy Pelosi, then the House minority leader, and Representative John Lewis, she found herself stumbling over the text she had been given.

“Someone from Everytown wrote my speech. It was pushing their legislative agenda versus my authentic voice,” Ms. Ranta said. “I couldn’t say ‘gun control.’ It was moderate messaging — ‘gun safety’ and ‘gun violence prevention.’”

Other members greatly appreciated the new direction from Everytown. “A structure began to be put into place, and we could avail ourselves of the data that was offered so we could speak more intelligently,” said June Rubin, a Moms Demand Action volunteer in New York. “So we’re focused and single-issue and highly recognizable and speaking with one voice, and it’s powerful.”

The policy agenda was to be focused on tightening background checks; more radical ideas like banning assault weapons were off the table. “There were people who were very, very troubled by that,” Ms. Rubin said. “I became very pragmatic.”

More confrontational tactics were also rejected. After the mass shooting last year at a Walmart in El Paso, Tex., other groups organized protests to pressure the retailer to change its policies. But Moms members were discouraged from attending and told not to show any affiliation if they did. One Moms official told volunteers in a closed Facebook group that doing otherwise could “undercut our relations with responsible gun owners whose support we need.”

“Our goal is always to get results, and sometimes that means playing the outside game and sometimes it requires playing the inside game and working with partners who have shown themselves to be amenable to change,” said Maxwell Young, chief of public affairs for Everytown. “We’ve found Walmart to be an ally on gun safety and an example of a leader always willing to engage in productive conversations.”

You thought you could leave. You thought you could go your own way. You thought you and Everytown/Moms Demand were done with one another.

Not so fast.

Former members of Moms Demand Action, who had been cut off from private Facebook groups and blocked by leadership on Twitter, were surprised when they received emails from Mike Bloomberg 2020. Then they learned his campaign had rented the group’s email list, for $3.2 million, two days before he announced his candidacy in November.

It is like one of those messianic-led, off in the ozone cults. You try to leave but they will always come looking for you…because no one is allowed to leave.

But don’t feel too bad as you debate should you burn that red Moms Demand t-shirt. You aren’t alone. There aren’t many progressive or liberal constituencies that Mike Bloomberg hasn’t tried to buy on his way to grab for political power.

Climate change activists? Ask the Sierra Club.

Women’s rights? Ask Emily’s List.

Education policy? Ask NC’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson.

Abortion? Ask Planned Parenthood.

And the list goes on. Mike Bloomberg may engage in sexist and racist behavior and fly in a fleet of private jets but his money buys willful ignorance and useful pawns.

More NY Subpoenas For The NRA

Danny Hakim of The New York Times is reporting that NY Attorney General Letitia James (D-NY) issued new subpoenas to the National Rifle Association last week. While I have been keeping up with issues related to the NRA, I missed this.

The subpoena, which was described to The New York Times, was issued last week and covers at least four areas, including campaign finance, payments made to board members and tax compliance. Because the N.R.A. is chartered in New York and the office of the attorney general, Letitia James, has a range of enforcement options, the investigation has alarmed N.R.A. officials already grappling with infighting and litigation. The same office brought a case last year that led to the shuttering of President Trump’s foundation.

Among the documents sought by the subpoena are records related to transfers among N.R.A.-controlled entities, including the N.R.A. Foundation, an affiliated charity. Recent tax filings show that the N.R.A. diverted $36 million last year from the foundation in various ways, far more than ever before, raising concerns among tax experts. The transfers came as the N.R.A. experienced financial strains and challenges from gun-control groups, which outspent the organization in the 2018 midterm elections. An earlier analysis by The Times found that the foundation had transferred more than $200 million to the N.R.A. between 2010 and 2017.

The NRA Foundation, you may remember, is now under an investigation by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine (D-DC). The NRA Foundation is chartered in the District of Columbia.

The New York investigation also is seeking internal documents related to the NRA’s filings with the Federal Election Commission as well as to communication with two political consulting firms. Those firms, Starboard Strategic and OnMessage, are somewhat intertwined. The Cult of Personality known as Giffords has sued the FEC alleging that the NRA paid money to Starboard Strategic as a means to funnel money to Republicans using OnMessage.

The New York Attorney General’s Office had no comments on the subpoenas.

However, NBC reports this response from the NRA outside counsel William Brewer III.

“Of course, the financial records of the NRA and affiliates were audited and reported in tax filings, in accordance with state and federal regulations — a fact that underscores the Association’s commitment to good governance,” Brewer said. “It is easy to understand why the NRA believes that the NYAG’s zeal with respect to this inquiry reflects the investigation’s partisan purpose — not an actual concern that the NRA is not effectively using its assets to pursue its members interests.”

“Regrettably, the NYAG seems to credit hollow rants by a handful of actors who are no longer associated with the NRA,” Brewer continued.

While Brewer seems to dismiss the actions of the NY Attorney General and her office saying it has “a partisan purpose”, she does have extraordinary powers when it comes to non-profit organizations chartered in the state. This includes substantial fines and even the possible dissolution of the NRA. If any of the current or former member of the Board are just sloughing this off as a partisan witch hunt, they are doing so at their peril.

This is serious business. I can’t say that it would not have come up if the Board had been doing their due diligence and taking their fiduciary responsibilities seriously. However, it would have been easier to dismiss as having a “partisan purpose.”

Someone Is Going Under The Bus

The New York Times ran a story by Danny Hakim regarding the financing of the “Russia trip”. It appeared in Thursday’s paper. The “Russia trip” was a visit to Moscow organized by Maria Butina. It was attended by former NRA President David Keene, then-1st VP Pete Brownell, Sheriff David Clarke, and some other board members. The trip was for the purpose of building stronger ties between the NRA and gun-rights supporters in Russia.

The financing of the trip has been of interest to both Congressional investigators and to NY Attorney General Letitia James. There have been a complicated series of personal checks and reimbursements which has attracted their attention. According to the article, the NRA’s outside counsel William Brewer III has asserted in internal presentations that “those involved had exposed themselves to wire fraud charges.” Other attorneys disagreed with this assertion.

Brewer is also asserting that Wayne LaPierre was opposed to the trip. This, however, is contradicted by emails from the time which marked trip-related invoices as “Wayne approved”.

While the whole financing issue is of interest to investigators, it is what is buried in this story that caught my attention. In other words, the story within the story. It concerns the bureaucratic infighting between some of LaPierre’s closest associates.

The invoices for the trip were overseen by LaPierre’s closest aide Millie Hallow.

The 2016 transactions were overseen by Millie Hallow, an aide to Mr. LaPierre, according to emails. In one February 2016 email, Ms. Butina sent an invoice directly to Ms. Hallow for “Hosting of NRA leadership group for six days in Moscow,” according to the document, and thanked her “for your invaluable advice these past few months.”

In a May 26 email that year, Ms. Hallow told other N.R.A. officials that an invoice related to the trip submitted by Mr. Brownell’s company, the firearms retailer Brownells, had been authorized: “Wayne approved these special projects involving Outreach that Brownell has done,” she wrote.

Now it appears that Josh Powell, Chief of Staff to LaPierre, is trying to throw Millie under the bus.

On Thursday, Josh Powell, the N.R.A.’s chief of staff, said in a statement that “in order to facilitate the transfer of funds to Brownell, Millie falsely stated that Wayne approved of certain expenses when he had not. In fact, Millie apologized to me (and others) later for the misrepresentation.”

You may remember that in late July I did a blog post regarding Millie Hallow. It detailed how she had been convicted of felony embezzlement while directing the DC Commission on Arts and the Humanities. My impression was that had been kept a closely guarded secret. I had NRA board members tell me they didn’t know Ms. Hallow was a convicted felon until that post was published.

It now appears that someone wants that information in the public domain.

But Ms. Hallow is one of Ms. LaPierre’s closest aides, and raising questions about her credibility comes at an inopportune time. The N.R.A. is relying on her word in its battle with Oliver North, the organization’s former president, who stepped down this year shortly after making a call to Ms. Hallow that N.R.A. officials described as threatening toward Mr. LaPierre. Ms. Hallow also once pleaded guilty to a felony related to the theft of money from an arts agency she ran in Washington. (emphasis mine)

It would be interesting to know which one of Hakim’s sources pointed that out to him. It does serve the purposes of Josh Powell but the question remains whether he is smart enough to made use of it. I don’t see it serving the purpose of Brewer as he needs her to be a credible witness against Ollie North. That is, unless it is more important to protect LaPierre in the Russia investigation than it is to continue the fight against Ollie North. If that is the case then there is a lot more substance to this whole Russia fiasco than we previously thought and it is a lot more dangerous to the personal fortune of LaPierre. Time will tell.

The Purge Continues At The NRA

The ascendancy of William Brewer and his law firm at the NRA is almost complete. Danny Hakim of the New York Times reported that Charles Cooper of Cooper and Kirk had been dismissed as an outside counsel to the NRA. Cooper and his firm had handled much of the NRA’s lawsuits in the past number of years.

Now Mr. LaPierre is continuing to purge opponents. On Thursday, the N.R.A. dismissed its longtime outside counsel, Charles J. Cooper, the chairman of the Washington law firm Cooper & Kirk, people with knowledge of the decision said. A second outside counsel and a top in-house counsel resigned. The departures come after an internal inquiry showed that the lawyers were involved in an effort to undermine Mr. LaPierre.

From what I have gathered from multiple sources, the “internal inquiry” consists of Josh Powell and William Brewer dragging people into a room and interrogating them for hours on end. If your inquiry team consists of a business failure and an attorney under an ethical cloud the results will be whatever is most likely to feed Wayne LaPierre’s paranoid fantasy of the day.

But as the informercial says, wait! It gets better.

The N.R.A. is also considering halting payments to its former second in command, Christopher Cox, who left in June but is still on the payroll, said the people, who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal matters.

The article continues with the assertion that Cooper, Cox, and others were secretly working with AckMac as part of the supposed coup to depose Wayne. Hakim in his story says he is working with documents that have come to light as a result of the NRA’s lawsuit against Oliver North. If I had to hazzard a guess, I’d say the documents came from Brewer and his firm as they seem to have Hakim on speed dial.

Hakim concludes his story by writing (and including a link to my blog’s namesake):

The unraveling of lawyers, guns and money coincides with the departures of half a dozen board members in recent weeks. But Mr. LaPierre remains center stage, as polarizing as ever.

“Donald Trump and Wayne LaPierre are made for each other,” said Peter Ambler, executive director of Giffords, the gun control group started by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. He called them “mirror images” engulfed in “allegations of corruption and mismanagement.”

But Todd Rathner, a member of the N.R.A.’s board, said, “Wayne is leading and proving that he has the political juice to get the job done.”

 Given the White House’s backtracking from what Wayne reported of his conversation with President Trump, I’d question Rathner’s last statement. He might have the juice to purge his supposed enemies within the NRA but I sincerely doubt his political effectiveness on the national scene anymore.

More Subpoenas Served On The NRA

Danny Hakim in the New York Times is reporting that New York Attorney General Letitia James and her office have served a subpoena on the NRA seeking financial records from over 90 current and former members of the Board of Directors. The subpoena was served yesterday evening.

The subpoena is an escalation of a continuing investigation into the tax-exempt status of the N.R.A., which is chartered in New York, and engulfs the organization’s board of directors in the inquiry. The subpoena seeks financial records and other documents that would shed light on spending decisions made by the board.

While James’ office is not commenting on the subpoena, the NRA’s outside counsel William Brewer III had this to say.

William A. Brewer III, the N.R.A.’s outside counsel, said in a statement: “As we understand it, counsel to the N.R.A. board accepted service of a subpoena to the board that relates to the production of documents and information.”

He added: “Such a request was expected and, as we have said many times, the N.R.A. will cooperate with any reasonable, good faith request for information given the organization’s commitment to good governance.”

This is making the decision by Tim Knight, Sean Maloney, and Esther Schneider to resign from the board and the decision by Adam Kraut to turn down an appointment to the board seem all that much more wiser.

I’ve heard numerous reports that the NRA’s Directors and Officers liability insurance was either dropped by their current carrier due to its issues or that the premium was so high that it was decided it wasn’t economically feasible. This has been denied. I tend to agree with what Dan Zimmerman of TTAG had to say about it.

The Times report says the NRA denied that their D&O coverage has been cancelled. That’s what the NRA’s Andrew Arulanandam told TTAG over the weekend, too. With the latest news of the NY AG’s widening fishing expedition, that coverage is more important than ever.

I would not be surprised to see a number of resignations by the celebrities – singers, actors, former athletes – from the board on the advice of their personal attorneys. They have deep pockets and if there is any suggestion of the absence of D&O liability insurance it would be risk management 101 to head for the doors.

If You Are Conservative At The NY Times, Do You Get A Brain Transplant?

When Bret Stephens was a columnist and deputy editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal, he was fairly reasonable in a country club Republican sort of fashion. He became a “NeverTrumper” in 2016 and then departed for the New York Times in 2017 to be one of their pet conservatives. Somewhere along the way, I swear his brain was sucked out and he was transformed into a Stepford conservative. That is, servile, compliant, and submissive to the progressive orthodoxy at the Times while maintaining his bland Republican ostensibly conservative face.

Yesterday, he did a joint “conversational” column with Gail Collins, a reliable lefty gun hater, on Donald Trump. In it, Stephens was asked if he still wanted to repeal the Second Amendment.

Bret: Yes, and you ought to join me in it.

Gail: Repealing the Second Amendment is totally impossible and talking about it just gives the N.R.A. another paranoia point to exploit. I say focus on the reforms that could actually happen. Like banning assault rifles. Tightening background checks.

Bret: I’m a believer in advocating supposedly impossible ideas, at least editorially. If not us, with the fantastic freedom and reach that The Times gives us as columnists, then who? Anyway, it’s not as if the N.R.A. will ever lack for paranoid fantasies about the deep state coming for their guns. So, if nothing else, starting a serious movement to repeal the Second Amendment might scare them into accepting the kind of sensible restrictions you advocate.

Gail: Instead of giving the N.R.A., um, ammunition to claim we’re out to take away every hunting rifle, I’d rather demand they defend teenage gun purchases and their “open carry” Eden in which every Applebee’s patron is packing heat.

They then return to their conversation regarding the firing of the House Chaplain by Speaker Paul Ryan.

It is kind of amazing when the 72 year old die hard lefty makes more sense that the younger pet conservative. Like I said, I swear his brains were sucked out when he joined the Times.

Re-Writing A New York Times Editorial From 2013

The New York Times ran an unsigned editorial on Nov. 21, 2013 entitled “Democracy Returns to the Senate.” In light of the events of yesterday in the Senate where the Republicans invoked the “nuclear option” and just this morning confirmed Neil Gorsuch as the newest Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, I thought a little re-writing was in order. My changes are in bold.

It starts:

For five years This year, Senate Republicans Democrats have refused to allow confirmation votes on dozens of perfectly qualified candidates nominated by President Obama Trump for government positions. They tried to nullify entire federal agencies by denying them leaders. They abused Senate rules past the point of tolerance or responsibility. And so they were left enraged and threatening revenge on Thursday when a majority did the only logical thing and stripped away their power to block the president’s nominees.

It goes on:

In a 52-to-48 vote that substantially altered the balance of power in Washington, the Senate changed its most infuriating rule and effectively ended the filibuster on executive and judicial Supreme Court appointments. From now on, if any senator tries to filibuster a presidential nominee, that filibuster can be stopped with a simple majority, not the 60-vote requirement of the past. That means a return to the democratic process of giving nominees an up-or-down vote, allowing them to be either confirmed or rejected by a simple majority.


The only exceptions are were nominations to the Supreme Court, for which a filibuster would still be allowed. But now that the Senate has begun to tear down undemocratic procedures, the precedent set on Thursday will increase the pressure to end ended those filibusters, too.


This vote was long overdue. “I have waited 18 years for this moment,” said Senator Tom Harkin Charles Grassley, Democrat Republican of Iowa.

Furthermore:

Republicans Democrats warned that the rule change could haunt the Democrats Republicans if they lost the White House and the Senate. But the Constitution gives presidents the right to nominate top officials in their administration and name judges, and it says nothing about the ability of a Senate minority to stop them. (The practice barely existed before the 1970s.) From now on, voters will have to understand that presidents are likely to get their way on nominations if their party controls the Senate.

The editorial concludes:

Democrats Republicans made the filibuster change with a simple-majority vote, which Republicans Democrats insisted was a violation of the rules. There is ample precedent for this kind of change, though it should be used judiciously. Today’s vote was an appropriate use of that power, and it was necessary to turn the Senate back into a functioning legislative body.

Not surprisingly, the New York Times has no unsigned editorial praising the Republicans for getting rid of cloture votes on Supreme Court nominees. The filibuster isn’t gone – you just have to do it the old fashioned way which involves a beach ball sized bladder and a lot of stamina.

What has surprised me the most in this whole episode was that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) actually had the cojones to go nuclear. For a Republican whose spine seems to be made of Jello, that was remarkable.

Ideologues Versus Science

There is currently a battle going on between anti-science ideologues and those committed to a health-related change in the laws based upon science. You have doctors, public health advocates, and civil rights advocates on one side and you have the New York Times and anti-health prohibitionists on the other side. I am talking about the battle between those for and opposed to the Hearing Protection Act of 2017.

The New York Times weighed in the battle with an absurd editorial entitled “Echoes of Gunfire Hurt Tender N.R.A. Ears”. As per their usual, they conflated the number of deaths attributed to the use of a firearm to include intentional deaths (suicides), they misrepresented the intent of Congress for adding suppressors to the National Firearms Act, and they created a strawman by insisting the public would be at risk because “ShotSpotters” would not be able to hear gunfire.

The annual tally of 30,000-plus gun deaths accounts for just a tiny fraction of the total shots fired, most of which miss their targets but terrorize neighborhoods. Amid the lethal cacophony, the police in more than 90 cities here and abroad seek to reach the scene of the latest gun troubles more quickly by using an audio detection system called ShotSpotter, which triangulates the sound of gunfire onto computer maps. Police officers in major cities hail these precise early alarms of where the latest shooting is.

Yet despite these advances, the National Rifle Association argues, self-servingly, that noisy guns are a public health hazard. With the help of supporters like President Trump’s son Donald Jr., a gun hobbyist, it wants to roll back an 80-year-old federal law that tightly controls the sale of firearm silencers. Immune to irony, the N.R.A.’s congressional friends have introduced a measure called the Hearing Protection Act, which contends that the sound of gunfire is hard on the ears of gun owners.

“What about the rest of us?” the nation’s unarmed majority might well ask. When it comes to public health, the noisier a gun is, the better the chances for innocent bystanders to hit the ground and for police officers to apprehend the shooter.

I guess reading the Washington Post is beneath the editorial board of the New York Times. The Post reported only four days earlier that the CEO of ShotSpotter said their devices had detected suppressed gunfire in the past and would be able to detect it in the future with some fine-tuning.

Then there is Mark Kelly aka Mr. Gabby Giffords of Americans for Responsible Solutions (sic) who has been leading the charge against suppressors.

From a fundraising email:

One of those bills would lift restrictions on the sale of firearm silencers.

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that firearm silencers work like you see them in the movies — where someone fires a gun and it wouldn’t wake a person sleeping in the same room.

But silencers do suppress sound and light when a weapon is discharged, and that makes them attractive accessories for criminals who want to conceal their crimes.

Attractive accessories for criminals? Really? Actually, criminals want to scare the shit out of you with the noise of a firearm report because it tends to make victims more compliant.

You would think someone who had been around jet engines like Kelly would have an appreciation for the damage that loud noises do to hearing. I know I do because every day for me is like a hot summer night in Mississippi where the crickets, cicadas, and tree frogs keep up an incessant noise. That is what tinnitus sounds like to sufferers like me.

On the rational, scientific side of this debate are groups like Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership. They have just released a position paper in favor of suppressors to prevent hearing loss. The four primary authors of the paper are all board-certified physicians specializing in otolaryngology or ear, nose, and throat issues. The following is from their executive summary of the paper:

Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) is a real public health problem:

The causal relationship between loud noise exposure and irreversible hearing loss has long been
recognized by medicine and the U.S. government.

NIHL is permanent and untreatable. Prevention is the only possible intervention.


Demonstrable need:

NIHL is the most prevalent service-connected disability among Veterans.

Per the CDC, 15% of adults aged 18 and over (or nearly 38 million American) have hearing problems.

Over 100 million Americans who own guns are at risk for gunshot-induced NIHL. Auditory injuries are
sustained by bystanders the same as by shooters.

Nearly all gunshots exceed the noise threshold for instant damage to the hearing cells of the inner ear.
And their explosive blast generates 1,000 times the force on the eardrum than the noise itself.


Benefit of suppressors:

Muzzle blast sound levels from most firearms range from 140 to over 170 decibels. 120 decibels is
considered the maximum safe level for short exposures (the intensity of a car horn 3 feet away). Ear
plugs and/or ear muffs only reduce noise by 20-30 decibels.

Evidence supporting the need for greater use of firearms suppressors comes from the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders, the
Centers for Disease Control, as well as academic and military research.

Muzzle-mounted suppressors are vastly superior to ear protectors, providing 50% greater noise reduction.
Only suppressors can make most modern firearms safe for hearing, as noise at gun ranges routinely
reaches 160 decibels.

I would urge readers to study the position paper issued by Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership. It provides great graphics and is extensively sourced. Moreover, unlike most doctor’s handwriting, it is both readable and understandable!

Our first suppressor arrived this week after a wait of over three-fourths of a year. As I said in that post, can you think of any other consumer product for the health and safety of both the purchaser and the general public for which you have to ask the government for permission to take possession of it on top of paying $200 for the privilege? It is time for Congress to act on the established science of hearing loss and pass the Hearing Protection Act.

Interesting Observation

I tend to take anything out of the mouth or pen of Paul Krugman with a grain of salt and then some. In an opinion piece written in the New York Times last night after it became apparent that Donald Trump was going to win the presidency, he made an observation with which I have to agree wholeheartedly .

We still don’t know who will win the electoral college, although as I write this it looks — incredibly, horribly — as if the odds now favor Donald J. Trump. What we do know is that people like me, and probably like most readers of The New York Times, truly didn’t understand the country we live in.

The rest of the piece was how we uneducated boobs didn’t value democratic values or the rule of law and that we voted to make America a failed state. Blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada.

Krugman is absolutely correct in that he doesn’t understand America. Living in the rarefied air of Princeton and New York City means that you live in a bubble. The best analogy I can give is that it is a real life Truman Show where the biggest worry of parents is not how they are going to make the mortgage or put food on the table but whether their 2.2 (or less) kids get into an Ivy League college. When you don’t produce a tangible product or when you aren’t compensated by your output, then the lingering downturn in the economy really doesn’t impact you. Those people can then go along in their merry delusions about those of us in the South or in flyover country.
 
My suggestion to Professor Krugman is to do a Steinbeck-esque road trip across America. Get off the main roads. Stay in small motels. Eat at the diner and the mom & pop restaurants. Visit small businesses. Indeed, go to a gun store and take a shooting class. Go to coal country or places in eastern Kentucky where the best job available is in the local nursing home. If Professor Krugman were to do such a trip and honestly report what he saw and felt, then I would have more respect for him.

Deconstructing An “Appalling” New York Times Editorial

The New York Times ran an editorial yesterday castigating the Republican presidential candidates for not talking about gun control in their recent debate. They titled it “An Appalling Silence on Gun Control”. After reading the editorial, the best thing about it is that they don’t hide their intentions behind the “gun safety” euphemism.

Now to deconstructing the editorial:

It was remarkable that the Republican presidential candidates’ debate this week, supposedly focused on keeping Americans safe, was devoid of questions and comments about the public health issue of gun violence.

First off, gun violence is an inaccuracy. The gun is a tool and an inanimate object. The gun itself cannot jump up and shoot someone. The gun doesn’t pull the trigger; a human finger pulls that trigger. The gun cannot commit violence.

Second, it is not a public health issue. Violence committed by urban gangs in turf battles, violence committed during the commission of a home invasion or burglary, and violence committed by minorities on fellow minorities is not a public health issue. It is a crime issue. No amount of research by pet academics at Harvard or Johns Hopkins can change this fact.

That would have complicated their pitch, and more important, would mean thinking about gun violence in ways that would displease the gun industry and its political lobby. Those forces demand unquestioning allegiance from politicians fearful for their careers — outspoken candidates who retreat into shameful timidity when serious ideas on gun safety are needed. Strangely, the debate moderators didn’t care to touch the gun issue either, thereby burying a public health challenge that is a lethal, daily threat.

It is not the firearms industry nor the NRA that is calling the shots here. It is the voters. Specifically, it is the single issue gun rights voter that is demanding no more gun control. The Times is so used to top-down organizations and astroturfing that they can’t recognize real grassroots movements when they see it at work. The gun industry dances to the tune of the consumer and not the other way around when it comes to gun rights. That is why Ruger is pledging to donate up to $2 million to the NRA-ILA and why Smith & Wesson almost went under as a result of an agreement with the Clinton Administration.

The majority of Americans have said that they don’t want what the Times considers serious ideas. The most recent polls say that people reject assault weapons (sic) bans and actually think carrying a firearm is a better way to fight terrorism than “gun safety”.

As Jeff Knox always points out, we are the gun lobby.

It’s easier for these candidates to engage in eerie discussions of whether the next president should be free to bomb civilians in Syria or shoot down Russian bombers in a no-fly zone. They are experts at stoking fears about terrorism and great at wringing their hands about the unfounded bomb scare that shut down the Los Angeles school district on Tuesday, but actually facing up to gun violence — which kills more than 33,000 Americans a year — is beyond their capacity or courage. Far from offering any ideas, their statements on the campaign trail are a national embarrassment.

According to official CDC mortality statistics for 2013, 11,208 people died as a result of homicides involving firearms. An additional 516 people died as a result of “legal intervention”. This is a far cry from the 33,000 that the Times claims die as a result of “gun violence”.

The larger number comes from aggregating the number of suicides involving the discharge of a firearm with homicides. However, only little more than half of the 41,149 suicides in 2013 involved a firearm. The Times ignores the other 19,974 Americans who died as a result of suicide.

Suicide is a mental health issue. When a person feels so desperate that they feel taking their own life is the only course of action left to them, it is a tragedy as well as a profoundly sad event. However the Times and their allies do not call it razor blade violence when someone slits their wrists nor Tylenol violence when someone swallows a whole bottle of pills and kills their liver. They don’t demand politicians close the “razor blade loophole” or demand “universal background checks” for those purchasing Tylenol.

The Times and their readers would consider the following statistics on homicides either racist or a microaggression. Either way, it needs to be said. 73% of the homicide victims in 2013 were either black or Hispanic. To put this into perspective the combined percentage of the United States population that were either black or Hispanic was 30.6%. Moreover, these homicide victims were overwhelmingly male – 90% male for black victims and 83% male for Hispanic victims.

“I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away,” Dr. Ben Carson declared in October.

Dr. Carson is right. Taking away the right of self defense is more horrible and devastating.

You get rid of the bad guys by using our guns,” Senator Ted Cruz passionately declared early this month. He likes to make light of the issue, too: “We define gun control real simple — that’s hitting what you aim at.”

Ted is correct. People do protect themselves and often kill the bad guys when they use their own firearms in defensive gun uses. This is a regular feature of The Polite Society Podcast. Clayton Cramer has resumed his postings on Civilian Gun Self-Defense as well.

“Gun laws fail everywhere they’re tried,” Senator Marco Rubio flatly insisted last month. That claim is plain wrong, contradicted by major studies as well as experience in other countries where politicians have enacted sensible controls that helped to reduce rates of gun deaths.

No, the Times is plain wrong. France had all the “sensible controls” you would want.

Donald Trump favored an assault weapons ban in 2000, but this year he pledged to veto gun controls, making the death toll from firearms sound like the inescapable result of fate: “You’re going to have these things happen and it’s a horrible thing to behold.”

The Donald is correct. They are horrible to behold and, yes, they are going to happen. Homicides have trended down as gun sales and possession have increased. If the Times wants to blame anything for mass shootings, I suggest that they look at the increase in radical Muslims and the de-institutionalization of mental patients.

Jeb Bush may be trying to run as a moderate against Mr. Trump, but he concedes nothing when it comes to pure fatalism about guns. “Look, stuff happens,” Mr. Bush said in October, bizarrely trying to make the case that the impulse to do something constructive may not be the right course after mass shootings. He could have been speaking for any of his current rivals when he addressed the National Rifle Association convention in 2003 and exuberantly declared, “The sound of our guns is the sound of freedom!” This week, the sound of the guns from San Bernardino, Colorado Springs and a dozen earlier scenes of American carnage never penetrated the debate.

The impulse is always to “do something”. I don’t support Jeb and wish he’d drop out of the race but in this case he is correct. It isn’t bizarre that Jeb said that following impulses to do something may not be the right course of action. What the Times forgets to add here is that the murderers in Tucson, Aurora, and many other places all did pass a background check. Banning magazines or firearms of “distasteful cosmetics” would not have stopped these killings. What might, and I’ll only say might, have stopped some of these murders would have been for people close to the murderers to have intervened before they went over the deep end. That is hindsight and mental illness is hard for a layperson to recognize.

Really the only thing appalling is not the Republican candidates’ silence but the narrative put out by the Times. They may think they know better than thee and me but they are mistaken.