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Most Americans Want Stronger Gun Safety Laws

poll released Wednesday by The Economist/YouGov found massive support in America for a number of provisions to keep people safe from gun violence.

The results run contrary to the positions of many Republicans, as well as their allies in the NRA, who oppose virtually all gun safety legislation.

Most Americans told the pollsters they want Congress to act to reduce gun violence. Sixty-four percent said that the legislature should pass such measures, as Democrats have done in the House.

Fifty-seven percent said they believe that the Senate should come back from its summer recess to work on gun issues. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rejected such requests and derided calls for gun reform as merely “theatrics.”

On individual gun issues, Americans showed massive support for a host of provisions:

  • 78 percent support enhanced background checks, including for gun show purchases;
  • 59 percent of those asked said they support a ban on semi-automatic weapons;
  • 65 percent support a ban on high-capacity gun magazines;
  • 73 percent support a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases;
  • 66 percent support requiring gun owners to register their weapons;
  • 52 percent support a limit on the number of handguns a person can own;
  • 55 percent back requiring a police permit before buying a gun; and
  • 51 percent support allowing the Centers for Disease Control to do research on gun violence.

Democrats have backed nearly all of the issues that received such strong support. The NRA and their allies within the Republican Party have consistently blockaded the issues, despite sustained public support.

After Democrats took over the House after the 2018 elections, they passed H.R. 8, which strengthened background checks. McConnell has not allowed the measure to be voted on in the Senate, despite support from hundreds of mayors and police chiefs.

Most of the Democratic candidates running for the 2020 presidential nomination have expressed support for some sort of a ban on assault weapons, and they all back enhanced background checks.

After the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, many Republicans, including Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, laid the blame for the shootings on violent video games with no evidence.

Other key Republican figures echoed the atmosphere of inaction in the days following the attacks.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) flatly stated after the shootings he had no interest in gun violence prevention.

“I don’t support gun control,” Gardner said, despite the coast-to-coast public outcry that has followed the shootings.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) chose to blame “mental health” for the shootings, but experts have repeatedly made clear that doing so is without merit.

Other nations have mental health issues and video games, but they do not have the problems with mass shootings that are so prevalent in America.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

Why The World Looks To New Zealand — And Not US

The United States used to be the nation that others around the world admired — the trend-setter, the standard-bearer, the first among equals. But we’ve given away our place at the head of the table. Now those of us who long for a pluralistic democracy — where diversity is respected, the common person is valued, civic virtues are upheld, and compassion and empathy are prized — must look elsewhere for examples.

In the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that small and unassuming island nation has become the model. Its prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has been the embodiment of the nation’s grief, empathy and support for the victims. Having respectfully donned a hijab when visiting the sites of the attacks, she has frequently expressed the view that Muslims are valued New Zealanders, that violent extremism will be hunted down and rooted out, that her nation will continue to embrace ethnic and religious pluralism.

Contrast her righteous indignation — she has said she will never speak the killer’s name, denying him the notoriety he craves — to the tepid response offered by President Donald J. Trump, who could not bring himself to explicitly condemn the white-supremacist ideology that motivated the attack. That’s no surprise. Trump has aligned himself with overt racists and is infamous for his Islamophobia.

New Zealand’s welcome example, however, extends beyond the symbolism of Ardern’s hijab and the riveting gestures of support from ordinary people, including impromptu performances of the haka, a traditional war dance of the indigenous Maori. Ardern has announced a national ban on military-style semiautomatic weapons, high-capacity magazines and any firearms parts that would allow shooters to modify weapons into terrifying machines of mass slaughter.

The suspected gunman is an Australian who traveled from that country to carry out the attacks; he had purchased firearms in New Zealand. Though it is not clear whether those were the weapons used in the attacks, he may have bought guns in New Zealand because Australia has stricter gun laws that would have made it difficult for him to purchase similar firearms there.

Australia adopted sweeping gun control measures after a 1996 mass shooting left 35 people dead. Since then, firearms deaths have dropped precipitously, and the nation has recorded just one mass shooting.

After the New Zealand atrocity, it took Ardern all of a week to propose gun restrictions, and she is expected to encounter little opposition. According to The New York Times, the major opposition party has already announced that it supports the measures.

Contrast that to my native land, which is the world leader in mass shootings, yet none of them has led to stricter gun control laws.

Last year, a gunman mowed down worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11. In 2016, a Muslim extremist with Islamic State sympathies shot up a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49. In 2015, a self-avowed white supremacist killed nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.

Many of the mass shootings in this country cannot be attributed to extremists motivated by ethnic or religious hatred, but rather by a looser and less-defined crazy. Last year, a former student executed 17 students and staff at a Florida high school. The highest death count from a mass shooting in the U.S. — so far, anyway — came from a 2017 rampage in Las Vegas, which left 58 people dead.

None of those deaths has changed the politics here, where the gun lobby and its allies resolutely block any effort to pass sane gun control measures. Many commentators point to the Second Amendment as a defining feature of our nation that differentiates us from our Western allies, but the Founding Fathers’ reverence for a “well-regulated militia” did not, for most of the nation’s history, give individuals the right to own battlefield weapons. The interpretation of gun rights that currently holds sway is relatively new — and profoundly reckless.

But we have allowed a power-mad and paranoid gun lobby to dominate the debate. Instead of restricting the ownership of battlefield firearms, we teach children to “shelter in place.” We perfect alert systems that send panic alarms to our mobile phones. We hire more police officers for our schools and places of worship.

This is nuts. I wonder if New Zealand is taking in American immigrants. I’ve never been there, but it certainly seems a saner and safer place to live.

IMAGE: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

#EndorseThis: Parkland Survivor Brushes Back Chris Wallace On Gun Control

The true heroes of last weekend’s March For Our Lives, teenager Delaney Tarr and other Parkland shooting survivors have been extremely fair. They are not just bashing the White House or the Florida governor’s office. If a politician from any party is tied to the NRA, he or she is getting outed.

But in a new interview from Fox News Sunday, Tarr could not avoid calling out the hypocrisy of President Trump on guns and the NRA. After the Parkland tragedy, Trump had called a bi-partisan meeting and waxed liberal on the subject of gun control, declaring that reform was on the way. (It wasn’t.)

In this clip, Chris Wallace tries to harangue the students by mentioning 45’s gun-control initiatives, many of which have been walked back already. In response, Delaney tar-and-feathers the POTUS by describing Trump’s empty rhetoric as exactly what it is.

Click for the money quote at 1:00, after fellow survivor Cameron Kasky calls out a different soiree the President had prior to scrapping his push for gun reform…a meeting with you-know-who.

Gun Outfit Hired Hannity And Others As Paid Shills

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

 

Right-wing radio hosts such as Sean Hannity and Mark Levin have been acting as paid pitch people for a company that promises to help train members on how to use guns to “survive a mass shooting.” Hannity has been especially vocal about the company and used the recent Las Vegas mass shooting to shill for it on his radio program.

The U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) is a pro-gun company that sells membership plans featuring“education, training, and self-defense insurance” for gun owners. It also criticizes attempts to enact gun control laws and publishes Concealed Carry Magazine. The group claims to have over 250,000 members and has attempted to grow its membership over the years through numerous advertising buys with conservative media.

Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Ben Shapiro are all part of the association’s latest advertising campaign for a “100% FREE Complete Concealed Carry & Family Defense Guide,” which includes tips on “how to survive a mass shooting” and “the safest AND most dangerous places to sit in a restaurant” (the sign-up takes people to a page that urges them to pay for a membership).

The USCCA created dedicated landing pages for each individual host participating in the advertising campaign, including the following identical quote which was cut and pasted for each person:

Prior to the Las Vegas shooting, these media personalities did advertisements for the campaign that aired in late September. Here are those ads, along with their dedicated website URL: ​Beck (ProtectAndDefend.com), ​Hannity (DefendFamily.com), ​Levin (DefendThem.com), and ​Shapiro (DefendMyFamilyNow.com) .

Hannity has continued to tout USCCA as a solution to surviving a mass shooting following the Las Vegas tragedy. During his October 5 radio program, Hannity segued from talking about the mass shooting to introducing “our friends at the United States Concealed Carry Association,” saying, “I’m proud to be associated with them. They have offered a family defense guide. You’re going to learn — and this is 164 pages — how to survive a mass shooting. How to detect attackers before they see you.”

Previously, Hannity used the shooting at a congressional baseball practice in June to push USCCA membership.

The association, which did not respond to requests for comment, features a Hannity testimonial on its websiteunder the headline: “Why Sean Hannity Joined The USCCA… Hear Why One Of The Most Trusted Conservative Voices In America Is A Proud Card-Carrying Member.”

Hannity used his October 4 Fox News program to advocate for concealed carry while discussing the Las Vegas shooting. He praised right-to-carry laws and said that “having more citizens that are armed leads to a decrease in violent crime.” He did not mention he’s being paid by a pro-right-to-carry group during the program.

Despite Hannity’s claim, as The Atlantic noted in June, “academic studies have strongly suggested” that right-to-carry laws “lead to higher rates of violent crime. The latest — and, at least according to one of its authors, most comprehensive — was released earlier this month by the non-partisan National Bureau of Economic Research.” The study concluded, “There is not even the slightest hint in the data that [these] laws reduce violent crime.”

Media Matters previously documented that Hannity repeatedly used his Fox New program to push his radio sponsor’s concealed carry agenda without any disclosure about his financial relationship. He similarly used his Fox News program in 2014 to promote the fundraising efforts of the Tea Party Patriots, which sponsored his radio program.