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Desperately Seeking NRA Approval

By       Message Martha Rosenberg     Permalink
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The NRA's "Celebration of American Values" conference last week was supposed to be a ritual of public dotage in which presidential candidates kiss the hem of the NRA's camouflage jacket.

But a month before the two day event in Washington D.C., four young people were killed execution style in Newark, N.J. and four Miami police officers were shot at a traffic stop. One died.

A week before the event, the International Association of Chiefs of Police--20,000 police administrators from the US and 88 countries--asked Congress to renew the federal assault rifles ban which expired in 2004.

And during the conference itself, two students were shot and wounded, one seriously, at Delaware State University even as candidates spoke.

No wonder Governors Mitt Romney and Bill Richardson just sent videos!

Of course most politicians know what a sham trying to receive the NRA benediction is, anyway. It can't be done.

Look what happened to shooting spokesman Jim Zumbo earlier this year.

The nation's top outdoors writer was stripped of his cable show and magazine column overnight for daring to call black rifles terrorist weapons and suggesting they were inappropriate for hunting. Whoops.

Sure the NRA enjoyed the way Arizona Sen. John McCain ripped into former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani at the conference, calling him a big-city mayor who "decided it was more important to blame the manufacturers of a legal product than it was to control crime in their own cities," "bankrupting" the poor gun manufacturers.

Sure it reveled at McCain's outing of Romney as a pseudo hunter who thinks "hunting ducks or varmints or quail" can cover up "support for gun control."

But there's the little matter of the Campaign Finance Reform Law--which would curtail NRA TV advertising during political campaigns--that McCain coauthored.
Even Mitt--not to play the two against each other--opposes it!

Sorry, John: C minus.

But even if a candidate could get an A plus, the NRA is going to need more than a pol in its pocket--its favorite concealed weapon--in the upcoming legislative sessions.

Its very agenda is in a tailspin thanks to the Virginia Tech shootings and the school, church and assault weapon shootings which have followed.

In Florida, traditionally so pro gun it's been called the "Gunshine" state, the murder of 37-year-old Police Officer Jose Somohano and wounding of three of his colleagues has changed the dialogue.

How did Shawn LaBeet, the man who killed Somohano, buy nine guns in the past year, including six assault rifles and the Mak-90, a modified assault rifle with which he shot four officers, people are asking.

"There's absolutely no reason I can see having these weapons out on the street," says Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, a former police officer and police director.

Faced with Somohano's death from a legally bought assault weapon and 12 other murders this year in Miami (15 last year) from such weapons, the NRA falls back on its favorite defense when there's a dead body: splitting hairs about makes and models of weapons.

LaBeet's weapon wasn't a fully-automatic assault rifle with a cyclic rate of 600 rounds per minute as the Miami Herald alleges, says the shop talk on the NRA web site, it was a semi-automatic!

And even though a fully-automatic rifle might be capable of firing 10 rounds per second, it would require 19 or 20 magazine changes which--depending on how many rounds were loaded into standard-capacity 30-round magazines (typically, only 28 or 29 rounds are loaded, for improved reliability)--would require almost all of that one minute!

So you see Your Honor, no crime has been committed.

Nor is it likely the NRA can revive its pre-Cho campaigns for the right to bring weapons to work, to parks and on school yards. (The business community in Georgia is still thanking Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle for "refusing to go along with the so called 'parking lot gun bill' despite heavy lobbying from the NRA during a late night session," in April. )

No, it's a new day for the NRA with a new sheriff coming to town who may not be sympathetic to the gun lobby--or even a white male.

 

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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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