In the midst this week’s truly terrible news, as racist violence escalates across the nation and is met with the assassination of five police and wounding of seven in Dallas, I bet you forgot to check the National Rifle Association website to see what thought leader and CEO Wayne LaPierre was up to. It’s a good thing you know me.
Understandably, Wayne LaPierre has a problem that is not limited to explaining why an organization that was founded as part of the post-Civil War Universal Military Training campaign is “the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights movement.” We can all agree that murdering police is despicable, but the Dallas police were killed with a legally acquired weapon that was owned and operated by a trained assassin. Police are always our heroes, but how do we spin the act of holding an unarmed man on the ground and firing into his chest and back repeatedly as righteous, even to gun fanatics? And how do we stand up for the police when a man who is carrying legally explains to an officer, and then is shot in front of his girlfriend without every drawing it? How do we fit this into the NRA’s principle that carrying a gun makes a person unequivocally safer? How is this Barack Obama’s fault — as NRA ideology dictates that it must surely be?
While Wayne works on this, the rest of us lived through this week:
- After having announced on June 30 that he would permit a gun control bill to come to the House floor, Paul Ryan had to withdraw it because if you embedded legislation that asked for a background check before a six-year-old bought a bazooka, members of his party would see it as the camel’s nose under the tent. As an example: the legislation that was withdrawn, and that barred suspected terrorists on the no fly list from buying guns, was part of a despicable “terrorism package” that would have included, according to The Hill, “measures to disrupt radicalization and recruitment, as well as a provision to prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing guns, according to a source on the call.” In fact, many people would say the “no-fly” list is despicable and racist too. On Wednesday, the House “Freedom Caucus” (which I have to put in scare quotes for so many reasons — but go ahead! LIke them on Facebook!) pulled the plug on this feeble gesture at “doing something,” evidence that the GOP is basically ungovernable. According to the New York Times (July 6 2016) Michigan Republican Justin Amash, a member of the caucus, “said the legislation would be `among the most egregious gun control measures ever to pass either house of Congress.'” If passed, the bill would represent “a massive expansion of the government’s ability to restrict gun rights on the basis of precrime — a crime not yet committed.” It sounds like he said pre-cum doesn’t it?
- But wait! We do execute people who have committed precrimes. According to this website, police killed over 100 unarmed black people in 2015, and that was only 37% of the number executed for pre-crimes.
- On Tuesday, 37 year-old Alton Sterling, an unarmed man selling CDs outside a Baton Rouge, LA convenience store, was shot in the chest and back as police held him immobile on the ground. You can see it here: but be warned. Like porn, you may not be able to get it out of your head. The next day, 32 year old St. Paul, MN school food service worker Philandro Castile, was driving while black through the suburb of Falcon Heights. Castile told the officer who stopped him that he had a gun in the car that he was licensed to carry, was shot several times. His girlfriend tried to get help on her cell phone, while the police responsible for the stop and the shooting let Castile bleed out and did nothing.
- Yesterday the trial of the fourth person who has been charged in the death of Freddy Gray, whose spine was snapped in a Baltimore police van, proceeded. of the other three police who have been prosecuted, two were acquitted and one received a mistrial.
- Also yesterday, five Dallas police murdered and others wounded in retaliation during a peaceful march by a 25-year old gunman, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, who decided to take revenge on the police. Supposedly trained negotiators then blew him up. (Enquiring minds are still asking about the “trial by jury” part of the Constitution.
- The Bahamas has issued a travel safety advisory to its citizens, and in particular telling “its young male citizens to take `extreme caution’ with police.”
Meanwhile, as demonstrations took place in ten cities yesterday, Wayne LaPierre and Congress are still scratching their heads.