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A one-way ticket to Tombstone USA

by Ed Raymond | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Gadfly | March 8th, 2017

Is it really high noon all over the country?

The inconvenient truth of unintended consequences has struck again. The National Rifle Association, under the leadership of top-gun Wayne LaPierre, once described by New York newspapers as “the craziest man on earth,” has been pushing for every kind of gun-carrying scheme, with or without permits, with or without any kind of firearm training, whether the carrier is completely nuts or not, and whether the firearm is concealed, open, or exposed.

LaPierre recently gave a fiery speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference describing conditions in America as a war zone of crime and terror that could only be controlled by every good guy carrying a firearm manufactured by the American gun lobby.

Although the NRA used to be a community service organization that supported hunting, wildlife programs, and gun safety programs for hunters and young people, now it is just a “BUY MORE GUNS” marketer for firearm manufacturers. More than half of NRA income comes from contributions, grants, advertising of weapons, and incentive programs from manufacturers. As an example, if Sturm, Ruger & Company sold two million firearms between 2015 and 2016, it would give the NRA $2 for every firearm sold.

I wonder how many NRA members and Second Amendment supporters had their guns taken away by the Obama administration. Please let me know. I’m dying to find out.

The idea of gun confiscation was always pushed during Democratic administrations because it was a great sales pitch. Gun sales went up 158% during the Obama years. Here come the unintended consequences of Donald Trump’s election, for the NRA. He claims he backs the Second Amendment and the NRA.

Since his election and the electoral success of the Republicans retaining the power in Congress, gun dealers have been complaining about flat or declining sales. Federal background checks have gone down 20% since the same time last year. Stocks of gun companies haven’t tanked yet—but they have lost considerable money.

What can Wayne and the NRA do to spike sales? Why not try scaring the hell out of everyone?

Corky and I have spent about a year in Arizona, staying in every national park, living in Sun City for a winter, and visiting practically every small town in every corner of the state, from Yuma, to Bisbee, to Jerome, and to Tombstone, the home of the famous 1881 OK Corral shootout.

It’s a fascinating place that hasn’t improved much over a century. We saw gun-carrying guys and dolls tying horses to saloon rails in the town’s historic district. Mayor Dusty Escapule says, “Tombstone became famous because of guns—and guys still carry guns every day.” The town council recently passed a proclamation naming Tombstone “America’s Second Amendment City.” The mayor signed the proclamation on January 10, 2017. He says it’s the only one in the U.S.

The organization Gun Owners of America, an even more rabid gun group than Lapierre’s NRA, describes Arizona as the most gun-friendly state in America because of its least restrictive gun laws. About 500,000 tourists take the dusty trails to Tombstone annually, a town of 1,380, to watch actors playing Wyatt Earp, his brothers Morgan and Virgil, and Doc Holliday slaughtering the bad guys, hopefully with blank rounds, in staged gun battles.

In his speech to CPAC, LaPierre is trying to turn the United States into a huge Tombstone USA, instead of just a little jerkwater town in Arizona with 1881 OK Corral attitudes. He claimed the “leftist media” (that’s me) and the violent left have joined criminals, terrorists, and drug dealers in intimidating the patriotic good guys who have guns—so the good guys need more guns! He is trying to scare the hell out of everyone. LaPierre added that “Right now, we face a gathering of forces that are willing to use violence against us.”

I thought of the 1952 movie “High Noon,” where the local sheriff has an appointment to shoot it out with a nasty-bad gunslinger on Main Street at high noon.

Permits to ride a bike but none to use a firearm

Evidently the Republican legislators in the North Dakota and Minnesota legislatures are going to do the bidding of their NRA masters and help turn the entire country into Tombstone USA.

So far, the same Minnesota legislator who introduced a bill to require special permits for bike riders to use bike lanes in urban areas has introduced another bill that would allow that bike rider to carry a firearm without a permit!

With the fact that a firearm can be purchased through a private sale without a background check, if this bill passes, any Minnesotan can carry without a permit and never be asked to show one. I guess riding a bike is really more intrusive.

Another representative has submitted a bill that would eliminate the duty of citizens to retreat in self-defense outside of their homes and expands the boundaries of what is considered inside a home during an invasion. It is a “stand your ground” bill that would put more people into graves. It’s a shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later bill. Florida has seen a dramatic increase in deadly shootings since it passed a “stand your ground” law.

Another bill would allow a permit once approved to be valid for life. Do you want people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other mental disabilities strolling around neighborhoods, nursing homes, hospitals, and other institutions carrying heat?

The North Dakota legislators have outdone themselves submitting NRA gun bills to the floor. ND Representative Kevin Cramer announced to the world he was from “Normalville” in a diatribe against women wearing white pantsuits.

Is it “normal” for legislators to submit more than a dozen bills allowing residents ranging from the mentally unbalanced, alcoholics, domestic violence perpetrators to those who think they have to “carry” any time they leave the house to buy milk? What a way to sponsor fear in everybody!

ND Republican Representative Rick Becker said in testimony: “there cannot be any restrictions on it” (The Second Amendment). Rick, do you mean a neighborhood association should be able to buy a 105 howitzer and rocket grenades to protect the neighborhood? If you place no restrictions on “it”, could a rich guy buy a Blackhawk attack helicopter to patrol his estate? Welcome to Tombstone USA.

Gravity always wins out

It has been part of the tribal culture of the Middle East since firearms were invented to fire celebratory fusillades into the sky for weddings, funerals, and other civic events.

Not too many died in the early days when gravity finally took over. The areas were sparsely populated. But in heavily populated cities such as Baghdad, Mosul, Damascus, and Teheran in the 20th Century there seemed to be street fatalities and injuries after every event.

It even happens now in Tombstone USA. As a Texas state representative was kissing his wife at a New Year’s night celebration in 2017, a bullet dropped from the sky, punctured his head, and ended up in the top layer of his brain. A neurosurgeon who removed the bullet said if the bullet had penetrated further he would have died. So some idiots in this country don’t understand gravity either and are shooting up the sky just to fire a gun.

As a teen-aged hunter and as a commander of a Marine Corps heavy machinegun platoon and later a rifle company, I learned how dangerous firearms are. I am absolutely amazed at how careless people are.

Two-year-olds kill four-year-old sisters and parents with weapons left lying around. Airport HSA security confiscated 3,305 firearms in 2016 that people forgot they had on their person or in their luggage.

M. D. Harmon, a 71-year-old conservative columnist for the Portland, Maine Press Herald, was a gun advocate who often published columns in favor of gun ownership. He repeated this charge against attempts to regulate firearms or to make them safer to handle: “It’s one thing to have the government create limited groups of people not entitled to own firearms for good reasons—felons, the insane, children, etc—and quite another to have the government think it require that a free people get official permits to exercise their rights.”

One day a teenager and his father were visiting Harmon, and he showed the teenager one of his firearms and handed it to him. Later Harmon was killed when the boy pulled the trigger. Another “unloaded” weapon. I guess Harmon was serious when he wrote that firearm safety courses were not necessary in the state of Maine. Welcome to Tombstone USA.

“The craziest man on Earth” now sits at the left hand of King Donald

LaPierre just spent $30 million of NRA money to elect King Donald -- and he didn’t waste a second sitting at the left of Trump after the inauguration. He said: “Our time is now. This is our time to go on offense.”

LaPierre made $5,110,985 from the NRA in 2016, and he needed to keep that rolling in. After Adam Lanza, a victim of Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, killed 20 first graders and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary with 154 bullets fired in five minutes from a semi-automatic Bushmaster, some people thought something had to be done about guns.

LaPierre and some members of the NRA didn’t think so, even if one of the tiny first graders was slaughtered by eleven bullets. Wayne and the gun lobby thought they should sell more guns.

President Obama tried to get a background check bill through Congress, but four Democratic senators, including Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, voted against this bill that was supported by 90% of the American people. We used to talk about profiles in political courage. Not any more.

In his frustration at the cowardice and fear of the NRA in the Senate, Obama wrote an executive order banning people who had been judged incapable of handling their own affairs from buying guns, such as Adam Lanza who killed his own mother before the mass killing. He used the Social Security list of people with diagnosed disorders who had to have representatives handle their affairs.

The Republican Congress couldn’t wait to do their duty for the gun lobby and LaPierre by repealing this executive order the last week of February. Now an angry victim of Alzheimer’s can storm out of a care unit, buy an AR-15 and thousands of rounds of ammo, and return and slaughter his fellow patients. Welcome to Tombstone USA.

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