Tag Archives: NRA

I Feel Threatened (Part 2)

7 April 2015

Viagra for Bullies

J. S. Chavez

Let’s talk about the NRA, an organization of real men, though many of them appear to be craven cowards. How could they be anything else? Most of them live in neighborhoods where, like Oscar Pistorius (I Feel Threatened Part 1), the likelihood of their lives being threatened is miniscule.  Way more likely that they will die in a traffic accident or from heart disease or at the hands of a member of their own households who gets his/her hands on an unsecured firearm.  Look it up.

This is a favorite bumper sticker/t-shirt theme among the 2nd Amendment set.

Gun owner victim


I wonder where a reasonable person fits into this false dichotomy. For the NRA it appears that you are either predator or prey.  I don’t know about you but…

I Feel Threatened. And it’s time we Stand Our Ground.

Gun owners strike me as a particularly insecure lot. Unable to reasonably assess a threat they see every situation as threatening. And, tending toward cowardice, they are impotent to deal with these perceived threats unless they have at the ready a means of exercising deadly force. And it emboldens them—as it did Zimmerman, Dunn, and Reeves. 

Nobody picks a fight with someone he isn’t sure he can beat.

Bullies, for that is all that killers are, are nothing unless they have the advantage of force. Is there any question of what these men would have done had they not had deadly force at the ready? Does anyone believe that these men felt so cornered that they would have fought back with their bare hands, their fingernails even, because the situation was that dire? Far from it.

Not only did these killers fail to make an effort to mitigate the situations in which they found themselves, each man actually escalated the situation—each with the perfect knowledge of the excessive force he had at the ready. Is this not premeditation? “I don’t have to back down from this punk because I know something that he doesn’t know.” Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law relieves an individual who feels threatened of the obligation to retreat.  Does it also relieve him of the responsibility of being controlled or reasonable? Is feeling annoyed, disrespected, uncomfortable, frustrated, impotent, the same as feeling threatened?

Just after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, where 20 school children lost their lives to a psychotic gunman, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre declared that  “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” The NRA’s reponse to the Sandy Hook tragedy was to put armed personnel in all the schools. They blame video games, movies, the liberal media, and mental illness for gun deaths. (It certainly couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that there are 88 guns for every 100 Americans, right?)

They want a mental illness database. All mental health practitioners would be required to forward patient files to the “jack-booted government thugs” who conduct background checks for potential gun owners? No, that can’t be what they mean because the NRA is staunchly against strengthening background checks in any way.

Small wonder.  Consider this statement made by Wayne LaPierre (interview on FOX news, July 2012) regarding a supposed UN treaty which would regulate the global arms trade and, according to LaPierre, “says to people in the United States, turn over your personal protection and your firearms to the government.” What? That sounds a bit delusional—and  paranoid. Are you sure you want a mental illness database, Wayne? Really?

LaPierre has also famously said “by its lies and laws and lack of enforcement, government polices are getting us killed, and imprisoning us in a society of terrifying violence.”  It would seem that everyone is to blame for gun violence except he people with the guns. But LaPierre seems to be asking law enforcement, “the government,” to step up and assume a stronger role in curbing gun violence.  Is he advocating for a stronger police state? Isn’t the 2nd Amendment the NRA’s fortress of solitude, so to speak? Isn’t the main point of owning personal firearms supposed to be as a protection against an overzealous, overbearing, overreaching, over-muscled police state?

The NRA can’t have it both ways.  They can’t claim that citizens need free access to assault rifles and huge magazines as protection against the excesses of the state and then turn around and blame the government for the results of citizens exercising that free access. Granted, Wayne LaPierre is a lousy spokesman but, it’s difficult to see how the most  articulate debater could spin the nonsensical arguments the NRA promotes as logic.

What are these NRA people are so frightened of?

Just how terrifyingly violent is the life of the average NRA member, because I suspect that the lives of the NRA elite, the ones we always hear from, are quite comfortable indeed. They say they’re not afraid-just prepared. And men who take Viagra don’t actually have erectile disfunction? They’re just prepared?

To be fair, a large majority of NRA rank and file members say they would support more stringent background checks. Why is it, then, that those who govern the organization are so far out of step with their members? As always, follow the money. 

The NRA receives many millions of dollars every year in corporate donations and a lot of that money comes from gun makers. Also, the governing body of the NRA operates very much like the Central Politburo of the Communist Party of China; both are a one party system. The committee decides who runs so it’s no surprise when one of their own wins.  As far as the NRA elite 1% are concerned, I guess the 2nd Amendment trumps the 1st Amendment.

More Information

Bureau of Justice Statistics       NRA Membership  The Real Terrorists

I Feel Threatened (Part 1)

30 March 2015

It’s Hard to Tell the Good Guys from the Bad Guys

 “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”

Wayne LaPierre, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President

   To paraphrase:

The only thing that stops someone from exercising his God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is an intolerant guy with a gun.

There are over 30,000 gun deaths in the US every year.  Put another way, that’s about 10 times the number of US citizens killed by terrorists—ever—or 4.5 times the number of US troops killed in the Global War on Terror (Iraq and Afghanistan). Keep in mind, these 30,000+ deaths occur every year.  And small wonder, with over 88 guns for every 100 US citizens it’s not hard to get your hands on a lethal weapon if you are so inclined.

Shockingly, the large scale tragedies, such as the shooting deaths of 26 elementary school children at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, do not spur us to take any substantive action. But let’s consider a few of the recent, high profile one-on-one examples of excessive force, abetted by intolerance. Of these, Florida seems to have more than its share. The brief summations that follow are captioned in the names of the victims.

Trayvon Martin February 2012

Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old visiting his father in a gated community in Sanford Florida, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, local neighborhood watch coordinator and police officer wannabe. Zimmerman began following Martin, who is black (yes, it probably matters), while “on patrol” and continued following him after phoning the police about a suspicious person. The police dispatcher advised Zimmerman not to tail Martin. He disregarded that advice, and wound up in a struggle with the teenager for the pistol that Zimmerman was licensed to carry.

Zimmerman may have figured Trayvon Martin could be managed easily when he profiled him; a skinny teenager slurping down a soda on a rainy night. The police report on the night of the shooting lists Zimmerman’s weight at 200 lbs. Zimmerman knew he had the best hand when he dealt it whereas Trayvon Martin didn’t even know there was a game on—or that he was playing for his life.  I mean, really, who was the aggressor here?  Who was the hunter and who was the hunted? 

Zimmerman wasn’t standing his ground, he was stalking. Apparently Zimmerman got more than he bargained for—less than he deserved but, more than he expected. Zimmerman probably didn’t set out to shoot Martin, but could any reasonable person believe that he would have pursued the teenager if he hadn’t been carrying a loaded gun?  Seriously?

Chad Oulson.  January 2014

Curtis Reeves fatally shot Chad Oulson in the chest after an altercation over Oulson texting his daughter’s babysitter during previews at a movie theater just outside of Tampa. Oulson, 43 was at the theater with his wife, sitting a row in front of Reeves and his wife.  Reeves 71, is a retired police chief who reportedly never shot anyone during his career in law enforcement. After demanding that Oulson stop texting Reeves left his seat, some say to contact the management of the movie theater, but quickly returned, by which time Oulson had ceased texting.

Oulson’s wife claimed that Reeves then taunted Oulson even though Oulson had put away his phone. Oulson became upset and threw a container of popcorn at Reeves who immediately pulled out his .380 and shot Oulson in the chest at point blank range. Reeves said if he had it to do over again he wouldn’t have shot Oulson.  Reeves’ wife said they should have just changed seats. They sound like reasonable people.

At his bail hearing Reeves had no problem coming up with witnesses who testified as to what an upstanding citizen he had always been. (Aside from the recent unpleasantness.) Reeves insisted he had been defending himself. It sounds more like he picked a fight knowing full well that he had the upper hand.

Jordan Davis  November 2012

Jordan Davis, 17, and black (yes, it probably matters) was shot 3 times as he sat in a friend’s car listening to music in a convenience store parking lot by Michael Dunn, a 47 year old (white) computer programmer. Dunn then fled the scene, ordered pizza, walked his dog, spent the night at a motel with his girlfriend, and was arrested the next day when he returned home. 

Dunn claimed the 17 year-old victim had a shotgun but none was ever found.  His fiance, who was in the convenience store as the shooting occurred, said Dunn never mentioned to her that he saw a shotgun. After firing several shots at the victim and his friends Dunn exited his vehicle as the teenagers hastily drove away and fired several more rounds at them.  In a routine recording of a jailhouse telephone call  Dunn declared that he was the victim.  A jury didn’t see it that way, sentencing him to 60 years, the minimum he will be required to serve. 

Reeva Steenkamp February 2013

It seems that the fatal insecurity that is so prevalent in the male psyche transcends geopolitical boundaries. Reeva Steenkamp, the striking model and girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius, the South African paralympian known as the “Blade Runner,”  was shot and killed by Pistorius while staying at his home in an exclusive gated community in Pretoria, South Africa. He shot her four times through the closed, and locked, door of the bathroom.  Pistorius claims he awoke during the night and thought Steenkamp was an intruder.

How plausible is that? He awoke in the night, thought he heard something, said, “Hon, I think there’s someone in the bathroom…Hon?”  Or, he awoke in the night, thought he heard something, reached out to find his girlfriend, “Baby, you there?…”

OK, so it’s not at all plausible.  Pistorius, who is currently on trial for the murder of Steenkamp, has a history of “inappropriately” discharging firearms.

Pistorius is something of an odd-man-out in this line-up of gratuitous killers. For one thing he’s not American. More significantly, he knew his victim—intimately.

How is it that one so readily, and so casually, leaps to the use of deadly force?

All of these men had training and were experienced in the use of firearms. Clearly they were aware of the power they wielded. So aware of the power and yet so oblivious of the consequences.

The thing is, it’s never a fair fight.  In these four murders, there is no evidence that the shooters gave their victims even half a chance.  Not one of them pulled his pistol and said “I feel threatened and if you do not run away/turn down your music/stop texting/get off of my bidet, I may shoot you.” At no point did any of these killers take any action to defuse the situation.

Zimmerman stalked Trayvon Martin to the point where Martin surely must have felt threatened. Reeves, at one point, actually taunted Oulson, after Oulson had put his phone away, asking him if he was “scared.” And Dunn stepped out of his vehicle to fire 10 rounds at a fleeing car—after, he claims, he saw a shotgun.

Oscar Pistorius, the “courageous paralympian,” seems to have been the most risk averse, firing at his lover, indisposed, who could not even see the threat through the locked bathroom door. (The door was locked because?) These are not the actions of men trying to avoid trouble. These are the actions of bullies who are in the possession of deadly force and itching to use it—which they did.

J.S. Chavez

16 Days in October (Part 3)

 30 January 2015

An Incestuous Bubble of Babble

 The 47% Majority

“Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?”
-Megan Kelly, FOX news anchor’s on-air question to Karl Rove, Republican strategist, on election night 2012. Rove was insisting that Romney would win the election. (Rove didn’t care for the question.)

The technology that moves data across the country at near light speed facilitates such an orgy of available information that consumers are overwhelmed by venues of content. Unlike the plain vanilla media landscape of the 1960s, when news was read by distinguished, Midwestern, middle-aged white males, cloned from Edward R. Morrow, today we can choose to receive our news content from a veritable rainbow of humanity.  If their presentation offends our sensibilities we can easily switch to one who will tailor the information in a way that makes us feel good about ourselves.

The right still complains incessantly about “liberal media bias”  even though they have FOX News, The Wall Street Journal, the Drudge report and a plethora of far right rabble-rousers on talk radio and television.  These conservative “news” organizations (which conservatives claim are balanced) are “necessary to set the record straight” and “disseminate facts the liberal media suppress.”  As conservatives gained control of more news outlets they became bolder, shriller, and wandered farther from the truth in their quest to reshape the world into what they think it should be.

The mainstream GOP tacitly condones the hate-mongering and disinformation disseminated by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, FOX news, the NRA, et al.  Occasionally, they will attempt to distance themselves from a particularly offensive remark but overall they are pleased as punch to let these “unauthorized” provocateurs serve up raw meat to the homophobic, zenophobic, racist, sexist, climate-change-denying elements of their party which they are happy to welcome under their tent. The Republican Party owns these attack dogs, though they have long refused to take responsibility for them.  It seems a delicious irony, then, that their refusal to muzzle their dogs has allowed those dogs to turn on their masters.

The constant drumbeat of protest from the right over supposed liberal media bias has taken a toll on mainstream media. Mainstream news outlets, fearful of being labeled “liberal” bend over backwards to be balanced, to the point where they are afraid to call a spade a spade.  Indeed, as media outlets have become concentrated in fewer hands, and profitability of news organizations becomes increasingly elusive,  what possible motivation could there be for a liberal bias at the expense of profit? If anything, news media are indulging a conservative bias, the motivation for which would be preservation of the bottom line.

The take-over of a large chunk of news outlets by right wing provocateurs has not “balanced”  the information wars so much as it has facilitated the rise of an alternate reality populated by paranoid unicorns, revisionist historians and fiscal fairies. The Know Nothings embrace this 1950s never land, where there are two chickens in every pot, the only people of color are domestics, and wives and mistresses are destined never to meet. All the while they dutifully consume large quantities of Kool-aid brewed up by disconnected nabobs who take their orders directly from God.  Strangely, God seems to have trouble getting his facts straight.

For all their whining about the liberal media’s suppression of “the truth,” when conservatives research, analyze and disseminate their own, “unadulterated” version, it is often inaccurate.  I’m not talking about spin here.  It matters little if conservatives choose to live in an incestuous bubble of babble.  It matters little that they believe Obama is a Muslim, that John McCain works for Al Qaeda and that death panels will decide who receives medical care at the end. (We’ve had death panels for years; we call them insurance companies.)

Problems arise, though, when conservatives venture outside the bubble. Throughout the government shutdown in October of 2013, the Know Nothing Party justified their actions by saying they were representing the will of “the American People.” The true representatives of “the American people” were the ones who passed the Affordable Care Act.  These true representatives of the American people got the job by getting elected. That’s how it works outside the bubble.

It seems that conservatives would be better served if they placed their faith in, and based their campaign strategy on, information disseminated by the “liberal” mainstream media.  On election night, 2012, well-heeled Republican donors descended on New York City and DC, expecting to party the night away celebrating a Romney victory—of which they had been assured. Really. How in the world did these people ever amass enough wealth to buy so many politicians?  The mainstream, sorry, liberal news outlets, were all predicting an Obama victory.  Romney’s pollsters declared they were shocked, shocked, mind you, blindsided; no idea what happened.

Is there no one in the GOP political machine who understands the meaning of the word “fact?” Is it possible that what conservatives call “liberal media bias” is what the rest of humanity refers to as “the truth?” Conservative journalist Christopher Ruddy, in a post mortem of the 2012 election, blamed the candidate himself, the liberal media, other Republicans, the weather, et al., for Romney’s defeat.   While the extreme right rioted over Romney’s lack of true conservative credentials, most of the rest of the country (47% and then some) seized on the  faux conservative credentials he did have—and rejected them.