Yet another lawmaker tries to hide his support of anti-background check filibuster.
Steve Benen: In competitive states, we’re seeing two kinds of politicians: those who support new measures intended to reduce gun violence and those who pretend to support new measures intended to reduce gun violence.
In New Hampshire, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), shortly after voting to kill the bipartisan bill to expand background checks, benefited from new ads claiming she voted for “a bipartisan plan to make background checks more effective.” In Arizona, Sen. Jeff Flake (R), who voted the way the NRA demanded last month, this month is telling anyone who’ll listen how much he loves “to strengthen background checks.”
And in Nevada, as Jon Ralston noted today, Sen. Dean Heller (R) is sending out interesting correspondence to his constituents.
“Knowing your interest in gun control, I wanted to give you an update on legislation I have cosponsored and supported recently.”
Imagine how Nevadans felt when they received a letter that began that way from none other than Sen. Dean Heller, who voted against the Manchin-Toomey bill, saying he feared a creation of a gun registry despite his general support for the concepts in the measure. He was hailed by NRA types and blistered by gun control advocates.
I wonder how many folks who received that missive fell for the having-it-both-ways Heller approach.
Probably quite a few. That’s the point — politicians who do unpopular things have to cynically hope they can mislead voters, not by explicitly lying, but by taking advantage of public confusion over details.
It’s yet another sign that voting to do the NRA’s bidding is not something you proclaim proudly to the world, but something you can only survive through chicanery. All of these politicians have no interest in defending their votes — obviously because they’ve come to see their vote as indefensible. Instead, they’ll try to confuse voters into believing they did vote in favor of expanding background checks, when in reality they voted to sustain the filibuster against it. In fact, Ayotte’s helpful ad came from the NRA — meaning not even they are willing to stand by their own position on the issue. The vote was political poison.
This all might work now, but a good opponent would see the opening here a mile away. If Heller or Ayotte or Flake, etc., are so terrified of their own vote that they’d go to such lengths to hide them, then an election opponent would be a fool not to drag that vote out in the open and expose the lie.
And this is why common sense gun regulation will win in the end. The fact that these people feel they have to hide their votes proves we’re already winning in public opinion and that those who stand against us do so at their own electoral peril.
Man uses assault rifle on cop at traffic stop.
Raw Story: A Colorado man is in critical condition on Wednesday after he used an AR-15 assault rifle to fire at an officer and then was shot himself.
A Longmont Police Department press release obtained by the Coloradoan said that the 36-year-old police officer had stopped the suspect at about 2:15 a.m. on Tuesday for driving without headlights.
The suspect got out of his vehicle and “advanced on the officer and began firing multiple rounds at the officer with an AR-15-style rifle,” the statement said.
The officer returned fire, hitting the man three or more times. The department said that the officer had not been injured in the shoot out.
Once again, a man uses his patriotic right to a crazy-assed gun to defend himself from government and winds up shot. Turns out this protecting yourself from government thing doesn’t actually work very well. This guy lost to a single cop, imagine how well you’d do with an AR-15 when the Blackhawk helicopters came in low over the horizon.
And this is what using your Sacred Second Amendment Freedoms to protect yourself from government looks like; some psychopathic goon taking potshots at police. Somehow, I doubt that’s what the founders envisioned.
It’s not Monday in America until some toddler shoots himself in the face.
MyFox8, NC: Randolph County deputies said a 2-year-old boy accidentally shot and injured himself when he found a handgun at his home Saturday afternoon.
Deputies said the toddler saw his father’s handgun in his parents’ bedroom and put it in his mouth, where it accidentally went off.
Authorities said it happened around 2 p.m. at a home on Spring Valley Road, just outside the Asheboro city limits.
Deputies said the boy was taken to Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem and is listed in serious condition but expected to survive.
Authorities said the bullet missed the vital arteries in the neck and head and also missed the spinal cord. Deputies said it’s a miracle the child is still alive.
Remember, two-year-olds sticking guns in their mouths is exactly what the founders intended when they wrote the Constitution. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Stories to Watch: 5/15/13.
An Arizona law meant to stop gun buyback programs by cities is turning out to be a failure. Thankfully.
Alfred Hitchcock on gun control.
Dallas, Texas really dodged a bullet when City Council candidate Richard P. Sheridan lost his election. What a freakin’ psychopath this guy is.
Pres. Obama accepts the resignation of acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller — a Bush appointee — in the IRS controversy. In the meantime, this “scandal” is quickly falling apart.
Louie Gohmert practically challenges Eric Holder to a duel in a congressional hearing after Holder points out that the things Louie had said couldn’t possibly be true. “I cannot have a witness challenge my character,” Gohmert said. As always, the best way to avoid being called a liar is not to lie in the first place. Louie needs to calm down and stop blaming other people for his bullshitting.
Yes, there is a scientific consensus on climate change and, yes, it is that humans are responsible. That cranks and crackpots don’t like that fact is irrelevant.
Republicans demand big cuts to food stamps, because having malnourished children is what America is all about.
In a letter to Ben Bernanke, Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorses a “get tough” approach to Wall Street crime.
The White House releases nearly one hundred pages of emails related to Benghazi. Related: Amb. Stevens turned down offers of extra security for his mission.
[cartoon via USA Today]
Man won’t be charged for accidentally shooting himself in a bowling alley.
Raw Story: Police say that a Florida man who shot himself at a bowling alley in Jupiter will not be charged with a crime.
Jupiter Police told WPBF that the man was bowling with a gun in the pocket of his shorts at Jupiter Lanes at around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday when the incident occurred.
“The guy just stepped up to bowl,” Jim Miller recalled. “I think he hit his leg on his back swing.”
“The ball hit him in the leg, which triggered the revolver,” Mike Martin, who also witnessed the shooting, added.
According to local station WPTV, “Several witnesses said that the gun was in the bowler’s pocket when it went off, terrifying other players.” You’d think they’d be used to this sort of thing, since the bowling alley in Jupiter, FL is obviously such a hotbed of hellish violence that our Second Amendment Hero here considered it madness to enter without packing heat.
And look at how effective his firearm was in keeping Mr. Responsible Gun Owner safe — i.e., total failure.
But hey, at least the man won’t be charged for accidentally discharging his firearm in a place where people gather together for quality family time. These things will happen. And if we start charging people for accidentally shooting themselves at bowling alleys, what’s next? Miniature golf courses? The circus? Chuck E. Cheese’s?
People might get the idea that it’s a little irresponsible to carry loaded guns in places where there are a lot children present. And then who would
recklessly endanger those children keep all those kids safe?
NRA loves Christie’s ridiculous non-plan to deal with gun violence.
Talking Points Memo: Campaign finance reports filed this week by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) show he has collected $3,000 in donations since March from a lobbyist with the National Rifle Association.
The latest of those reports became public Monday, just as Christie’s Democratic opponent in the Garden State governor’s race, state Sen. Barbara Buono, has been hitting him for having a weak stance on gun control.
“We’ve seen really exceptional leadership across the river with Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg, but unfortunately, in New Jersey, Gov. Christie has not shown leadership,” Buono told TPM by phone on Monday evening.
“Her criticism has centered on a task force Christie launched in January to address violence following the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.,” the report goes on. “Buono has repeatedly described the recommendations issued by that commission as ‘shallow’ and accused Christie of using it to avoid the issue of gun control immediately after the shooting.”
“Shallow” works, but “a joke” would be good too. “He set up this commission right after Newtown. I’m not sure why he set up the commission considering Vice President Biden had already set up a commission,” said Buono. “It really appeared as though it was a delay tactic to delay and put it off hoping that people would calm down after the latest tragedy.”
The commission’s recommendations: criminalize the video games like “Call of Duty,” as well as mental illness. There’s even a call to ban the Barrett .50 caliber rifle — not because it’s been a problem in New Jersey, but because it’s featured in “Call of Duty.” The NRA is apparently cool with this ban, I suppose because it helps lay the blame for gun violence in America on video games and not the deep saturation of guns in our population.
Meanwhile, the state legislature is expected to pass legislation ignoring the panel’s recommendations and instead expanding background checks. That legislation may not have a bright future and this might explain why the NRA is shoring up Christie early — a veto of background checks legislation is pretty much the same as voting against it. Ask Kelly Ayotte how that sort of thing plays in the northeast these days.
Stories to Watch: 5/13/13.
Got a really late start on these headlines, so this is going to be brief.
Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne holds up Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as the kind of mayor who talks sense about gun control. That’s the kind that makes the gun lobby nervous.
Harry Reid says that gun safety advocates will “settle” for legislation leaving gaping holes in the background check system. Harry Reid is very wrong.
Marco Rubio wants the president to “demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately” over news that the agency gave special attention to Tea Party groups seeking tax exempt status. The problem: there is no IRS Commissioner. The previous commissioner’s term ended during the last election year, meaning nominating a replacement was completely impossible. “The Republicans would block anybody that Obama sent up.” Jeff Trinca, a former chief of staff for the National Commission on Restructuring the Internal Revenue Service, said at the time. So Rubio’s demanding a resignation from a position that’s empty because of Republican obstructionism.
Democrats are fighting over what to do with California’s $4.5 billion budget surplus. A problem you want to have. Liberal economic policies work. Here’s living proof.
Finally, John McCain becomes the latest Republican to thank Fox News for all their help in hyping Benghazi.
[cartoon via Truthdig]
Gun lobby, Ayotte clearly feeling the heat.
Greg Sargent: A bit of a dispute has broken out over just how much pressure Kelly Ayotte is feeling over her vote against the Manchin-Toomey compromise to expand background checks. The gun control forces have organized to pressure her at town hall meetings and on the air, but conservative media have argued that the pressure on her from the left has been exaggerated.
It’s interesting, then, that the major efforts to defend Ayotte by gun rights groups and fellow Republicans tend to emphasize her supposed support for background checks. That seems like a pretty good sign of which way the political winds are blowing on the issue.
Here, for instance, is a new ad that Marco Rubio’s Reclaim America PAC is running in New Hampshire. It says this: “Safety. Security. Family. No one understands these things like a mom. Ayotte voted to fix background checks, strengthen mental health screenings and more resources to prosecute criminals using guns.”…
That message echoes a recent NRA ad that thanks Ayotte for her vote, but also says: “Kelly Ayotte voted for a bipartisan plan to make background checks more effective.” Ayotte herself recently defended her vote on the same grounds that she supports.
It’s hard not to notice that the thrust of these defenses center on Ayotte’s support for background checks, and not her opposition to expanding them.
In other words, the message here is “Kelly Ayotte? Voted against background checks? Why, you must be thinking of someone else!” They aren’t even trying to defend her vote. Instead, they’re trying to cloud the issue with bullshit. According to Sargent, what they’re pointing to is not the background check bill that was nearly universally popular, but instead “an alternative proposal, sponsored by Chuck Grassley, that would have beefed up state sharing of mental health data with the feds, without extending the background check to private sales via commercial portals on the internet and at gun shows.” So, not really a vote about background checks at all.
Sargent reports that “gun control groups believe the Grassley approach would actually undermine the overall background check system” and that voting for Grassley’s idea wouldn’t have prevented her from voting for voting for the background check expansion. They were separate issues, not competing proposals. In the end, Ayotte voted against expanding background checks and any other story isn’t even spin — it’s a lie.
But Rubio and the NRA know they’ve got the losing argument here, so they aren’t bothering to defend it. Rather, they’re just plain lying about Ayotte’s record to make it seem like she voted for gun control. This is so not going the way they’d hoped.
Using the Threat of Violence to Shut Down Debate.
You didn’t have to be Nostradamus to see it coming, but I’ll take credit for it anyway. When Mayors Against Illegal Guns announced they’d be holding rallies in eight states Mother’s Day weekend, I wrote, “Expect armed goons to show up to at least one of these, because if there’s anything the gun nuts really lack, it’s class and a nose for good PR.” Lo and behold, at a rally in Pennsylvania, said goons showed up.
PhillyBurbs.com: As victims of gun violence spoke about how universal background checks might have saved a loved one’s life, pro-gun supporters jeered and yelled remarks Saturday in Morrisville’s Williamson Park.
Steve Kesselman of Holland raised his voice above the crowd to briefly talk about the loss of his 20-year-old son from a deadly shotgun blast after an argument last year.
“My son is dead! His mother cannot enjoy him anymore because of gun violence! Universal background checks is all we’re looking for. I have nothing against guns!” Kesselman yelled into the microphone.
“Do you believe in unicorns?!” a pro-gun supporter yelled from the crowd.
“Gun owners from groups such as Concerned Gun Owners of Bucks County, the National Rifle Association and a New Jersey group called the NJ2As gathered at Williamson Park before the marchers arrived,” according to the report. “Many wore guns and rifles.”
“I think it’s ridiculous the way they’ve been acting. I’m so numb to the idiots out there,” Kesselman said of the armed counter-protesters.
I don’t want to refer to my own writing on the subject too often, but I’ve been on a bit of a tear lately, so the info I’ve for previous posts is the info I have closest at hand. So I’m going to go ahead and refer back to a post from last week, where I argued that things like armed protests should be taken as open threats of violence on par with terrorism:
So you’ve got people who hate government and want to kill tyrants. And these are the same people who see tyranny under every rock. Polling shows that nearly half of all Republican voters think armed revolution “might be necessary” in the near future. A reasonable person wouldn’t be out of line to wonder when all this tyrant-fighting was going to start and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think it could be any second now. And when they hear about a terrorist attack with an unknown motive, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if maybe all this tyrant-killing has finally gotten under way.
When people argue that violence, murder, and assassination are legitimate political tools, brandishing firearms is meant to frighten people into silence. It’s bullying and, like all bullies, these bullies are cowards. Anyone who shouts in the face of a peaceful grandmother isn’t a model of courage. And anyone who heckles a father speaking about death of his son is not a paragon decorum. These people don’t want to have a debate. In fact, they’re so terrified of the discussion that they’ll show up with guns to try to shut it down. These people call themselves “patriots,” but they’re really just cowardly thugs. Courageous people don’t need to hide behind their weapons.
And they’re ineffective thugs, at that. They couldn’t shut down the rally in Morrisville and they won’t stop the growing movement to reduce gun violence, because the issue is way too important. It’s not going to get derailed by a bunch of tantrum-throwing toddlers afraid someone’s going to take away their binky. That importance was underscored the very next day, with a Mother’s Day mass shooting in New Orleans. Nineteen people were injured while attending a parade, when three men opened fire on the crowd. Two of the victims are children.
So wave your guns around and menace old ladies and jeer at grieving fathers all you want, gun nuts. We’re not going anywhere. Every time there’s a mass shooting or a dead kid, it strengthens our resolve. And if you feel the need to wave your guns around in a crowd of families and children, you’re just proving our point. We’re pretty convinced you shouldn’t be able to do that.
If you want to have a rational discussion about how to deal with gun violence, that’s fine. We may not agree on everything and may walk away as divided as we were before, but that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Democracy’s not supposed to be easy or comfortable all the time. But if your idea of “debate” is to stick a gun in someone’s face and tell them to shut up, then we don’t have a lot to talk about.
You’re nothing but a goon and you’re part of the problem.
[photo via PhillyBurbs.com]