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What Tech Shootings? NRA Storms Ahead

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On April 16, Seung-Hui Cho's bullets stopped 32 people in their tracks. But they haven't stopped the NRA's fast track agenda. If anything, they've accelerated it.

Sure, the NRA worked with its Congressional enemies to draft legislation that would close Cho loopholes--H.R. 2640, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System Improvement Amendments Act--which passed the House in June. But it was a con job by the NRA's own admission.

"In several ways this bill is better for gun owners than current law," the NRA web site assures its members. "Under H.R. 2640, certain types of mental health orders will no longer prohibit a person from possessing or receiving a firearm. Examples are adjudications that have expired or been removed, or commitments from which a person has been completely released with no further supervision required. Also excluded are federal decisions about a person's mental health that consist only of a medical diagnosis, without a specific finding that the person is dangerous or mentally incompetent."

No, the REAL legislation taking place was in the Senate where weeks after the Cho shootings the NRA convinced lawmakers to keep the law enforcement crippling Tiahrt Amendment in the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill.

Designed to protect gun dealers and manufacturers from "politically motivated lawsuits"---the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act wasn't enough?--the Tiahrt amendment shields illegal gun sellers and the criminals they arm by prohibiting the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from sharing crime gun trace data with other law enforcement agencies except regarding a specific crime. The data is not even admissible in court.

No wonder NRA Pennsylvania lobbyist John Hohenwarter told Black Caucus members in June who were holding up the state budget to try to limit handgun purchases to one a month the answer was more funding for "law enforcement, investigation and prosecution." He knew the laws have been de-fanged.

Other states are drinking the Kool-Aid too.

Maine defeated a gun purchase waiting period law; Missouri adopted the Castle Doctrine law, made famous in Florida, that removes a victim's duty to retreat; Wisconsin is looking at a conceal and carry law and Delaware legalized hunting animals with handguns.

Meanwhile, the Arizona House of Representatives expanded an existing law that says public buildings that prohibit guns must provide storage to say if buildings don't provide storage--if lockers are full, not installed or the weapon does not fit--the weapon may be brought inside.

"The Downtown library has four lockers. You can put a pistol or a knife in a locker and an attendant will hand you the key," says an Arizona Daily Star editorial protesting the new legislation. "Under present law, you can't put a shotgun or a rifle in there; they won't fit. But if the latest bill from State Sen. Chuck Gray, R-Mesa, passes, that will change."

Besides being armed to return a library book, the NRA wants the right to bring weapons on public parks and school yards, often in defiance of home rule laws.

And speaking of bravery, the NRA has also found time since the Cho shootings to help Safari Club International (SCI), the group former President George H.W. Bush, former Vice President Dan Quayle and Retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. belonged to when they were outed hunting in Africa and asking the Botswana government to keep trophy lion hunts available.

In June it helped SCI defeat an amendment to the Marine Mammal Protection Act in the House of Representatives that would have banned the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies from Canada.

Who kills polar bears for fun?

Eight hundred Americans imported polar bear trophies from guided hunts in Arctic Canada since 1997! And SCI offers a "Bears of the World" award, a kind of National Geographic for the bloodthirsty, in which hunters have to kill four of the world's eight bear species which include imperiled polar bears.

The NRA also worked to defeat wolf protection laws and spay and neuter legislation for dogs.

No, Seung-Hui Cho's bullets have not stopped the NRA's fast track agenda--or the politicians in its back pocket: the ultimate concealed weapon.
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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)

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