On January 16, 2013, all eyes were on President Obama as he announced gun safety proposals by saying, “This is our first task as a society: Keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged. And their voices should compel us to change.”
With those words, the President spoke from his heart and for the nation while taking on the gun lobby, a formidable alliance between cash, gun manufacturers and self-proclaimed super-patriots. A lobby called the National Rifle Association (NRA).
In the wake of the President’s message, the NRA removed any pretense of being a good-faith partner in solving America’s most frightening and heart-wrenching problem, the proliferation of military-style, rapid-fire guns in the hands of unstable shooters.
In a commercial, the NRA puts the President’s daughters “in the crosshairs.” The ad begins: “Are the president’s kids more important yours?” The ad then charges that the President is an “elitist hypocrite” because he doesn’t immediately embrace the NRA’s proposal for more armed guards at schools while the school Obama’s daughters attend has armed guards. This insinuates that average Americans “aren’t afforded the same security for our kids.” Unfortunately, this is completely misleading as the NRA ad doesn’t mention that the armed guards are really government-required Secret Service agents. The word “HYPOCRITES” then appears on-screen.
Even with Americans giving him the authority of victories in two national elections, the GOP, “Guns Over People” (courtesy of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews), continues to dismiss the first four words of the Second Amendment, “A well regulated Militia…,” as quickly as the President’s proposals. For them a well-regulated militia means every man, woman and child is armed and those with the biggest, fastest and most powerful guns, rule.
NRA Board Members don’t hear “gun safety.” They hear “seizing guns,” “confiscating guns” and “banning guns.” Some point to the 1992 North Idaho Ruby Ridge shooting which resulted in Attorney General Janet Reno’s investigative report which concluded that the “FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team overreacted to the threat of violence and instituted a shoot-on-sight policy that violated bureau guidelines and Fourth Amendment restrictions on police power.”
Also, inflaming passions is the right-wing belief that on April 19, 1993 “agents of the United States government attacked their compound and murdered helpless women and children with battle tanks, flame-throwers, and poison gas. Nearly 100 innocent people lost their lives as a result. What makes this a tragedy of the most terrible proportions is that the Davidians had done nothing to provoke this attack by the United States’ government.”
The NRA is run not just by money, but by a Board of almost 60 members who are bound together by their love of guns, fear of “others,” their embrace of unfettered access to firearms and conservative causes. Here are some of the people the President is up against:
Tom Selleck, NRA Board Member, star of CBS TV show “Blue Bloods”
On January 17, 2013, Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC’s “The Last Word,” spoke about Selleck’s close ties to the NRA and challenged Selleck to speak out against the NRA ad, especially the part about the President’s children. Selleck has two grown children. O’Donnell chronicled the participation of Selleck with the NRA from being a spokesperson to his present Board membership. In 1999, appearing on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show (no relation to Lawrence), Selleck indicated that gun violence is a price we must pay for freedom in the United States by saying, “What I’m talking about is, are we a responsible enough society, in terms of television, in terms of guns, in terms of everything else, to be this free? That should frame the debate. My answer, unfortunately, in this culture, is ‘probably not.’ But I’m going to go down with the civil liberties ship.” He also asked O’Donnell, “Do you really think the Second Amendment is in the Constitution to guarantee hunting and target shooting?”
Former Georgia U.S. Representative Bob Barr, Board Member
“By upholding Obamacare, the Supreme Court—a court nominally ‘conservative’ and supposedly ‘non-activist’—has driven the final nail into the coffin of limited government…Tragically, this foundation of sand on which Chief Justice John Roberts and his majority colleagues based their decision now takes on enhanced power as a basis on which the government will be able to seize freedom from the people.” Barr gave the keynote speech at a white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) national convention in 1998. The CCC has claimed that blacks are genetically inferior to whites and has also advocated homophobic, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic ideas.
Former U.S. Senator Larry Craig, Board Member
Craig has been charged with allegedly misusing more than $200,000 in campaign funds for his legal defense following his 2007 arrest in a bathroom sex sting. Unbelievably, he tried to fend off the sex charges by arguing that the incident was part of his official Senate business. He supported “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, writing: “It is
unacceptable to risk the lives of American soldiers and sailors merely to accommodate the sexual lifestyles of certain individuals.”
Roy Innis, National Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, NRA Board Member
Most famous for pushing and shoving Reverend Al Sharpton to the ground while proclaiming that I’m “One of the few non-bigoted black people around…” The Washington Post reported that Prosperity USA, a private charity run by two top aides to 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, gave $100,000 to Innis’ Congress of Racial Equality Organization (CORE) shortly before Cain spoke at CORE’s annual ‘Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Celebration’ dinner. Speaking about Cain at the event, Innis said, ‘In this case we are even more pleased to bring the Tea Party people to our dinner as they have exemplified the spirit of Dr. King and are living the legacy that he helped establish in American politics.’”
Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President and CEO
“Of all the threats to American liberty posed by the Obama administration, the most dangerous is the corruption of the U.S. Department of Justice where high-level misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance have become the norm. The U.S. Department of Justice is supposed to be a neutral guardian of the rule of law and protector of our national order. It is supposed to uphold the United States Constitution. Instead, under President Barack Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, it has become the national enforcer of Chicago-style thuggery on the national scene,” wrote Mr. LaPierre.
Grover Norquist, Board Member
Mr. Norquist has declared, my “goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” Norquist has written, “President George W. Bush now has the incentive to level the playing field by stripping the Democrats of their ill-gotten gains. To do that he’ll have to shake the Democrats’ five pillars. “labor unions,” “taxpayer funded lobbies,” “greedy trial lawyers,” Big City political machines,” and “voter fraud.”
The NRA claims 4.25 million members. It’s not clear how many of the NRA’s members actually pay for the privilege. Mother Jones, the magazine which broke the story around Mitt Romney’s 47% remark, said it found a “strong indication that the NRA’s true size is closer to 3 million.”
You may access the entire membership of the NRA Board, along with their statements and ideas at:http://www.meetthenra.org/board-list
Can a nation of 300 million people be held hostage to the ideas and power of just 1%? President Obama collected almost 66 million votes in his 2012 re-election bid. Let your congresspersons know where you stand.
Carl Matthes is a native of Los Angeles and has lived in Eagle Rock for over 40 years. He is a former president and a current Board member of Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance. He is a former columnist and a current advisor to the Lesbian News, the oldest lesbian publication in America. He was editor of the GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) newsletter and a former GLAAD National Board member. He has also been a Board member of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
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