Five days after the shooting deaths in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, the National Rifle Association public relations machine emerged from its bunker, promising a press conference on Friday “to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”
Despite public defections by usually supportive legislators over the past week, it seems unlikely to me that NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre will offer up any proposals weakening that groups’ rigid stance that virtually all legislative efforts to regulate firearms are attacks on American Freedom.
It’s more likely the NRA will fight back against calls for legislation banning assault type rifles and large ammo clips, using the “best defense is a strong offense” philosophy. From Fox News:
Sources close to the issue had earlier alerted Fox News that the National Rifle Association — which has remained silent sinceNewtown, chiefly to allow for a proper period for mourning — would soon start to “push back” against the gun-control lobby.
“If we’re going to have a conversation, then let’s have a comprehensive conversation,” said one industry source. “If we’re going to talk about the Second Amendment, then let’s also talk about the First Amendment, and Hollywood, and the video games that teach young kids how to shoot heads.
Gun Nuts on Patrol
Minnesota State Rep. Tony Cornish has announced plans to introduce an “Armed Defense of Classrooms” law, saying:
“It’s something that we have to face that all of the laws in the world sometimes aren’t just going to work…The cop can’t be everywhere so the best person to defend yourself is yourself.”
Not to be outdone, Oklahoma State Rep. Mark McCullough wants to require their armed teachers to have equivalent training to that provided to law enforcement officers.
And in the God fearing, Obama hating, State of Tennessee, Sen. Frank Niceley is proposing legislation that would require that every school have either an armed Resource Officer or at least one armed faculty or staff member.
Why Stop with the Teachers?
While we’re passing the gun love around, we’d be remiss not to mention the Kearns, Utah 11 year old boy who brought a .22 pistol with him to school on Monday. He was eventually ratted out by one of his classmates, who bravely decided to do the right thing after being threatened with being shot.
The 11 year old told authorities he was worried about the shootings in Newton. Perhaps he should get some of that Oklahoma training, though: it turns out the ammo he brought along was the wrong type.
Not funny. Sad but true department – from Wonkette:
No word yet on whether any Utah legislators will argue that an armed teacher should have been allowed to take out the kid, had they seen him waving a gun on the playground. If he was pointing his empty gun at another student, it would have been a clean kill, after all.
Hating the Science: Facts Have a Liberal Bias
One thing we ought to know by now is that right wingers will stop at nothing to keep facts from getting in the way. Take gun violence statistics for instance.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is up today with a story about what happened when the Centers for Disease Control wanted to track gun violence statistics. It seemed like the perfect fit, they already are hard-wired to the medical and research communities, collecting data on all kinds of things that hurt and/or kill people. Ongoing CDC studies include matters as divergent as auto accidents and dangerous falls by elderly people.
But noooo. Research on gun violence was banned, thanks to hardball tactics from the National Rifle Association, which called such efforts ‘political’ and useful only for gun control. Money quote:
Stephen Hargarten, a professor and chairman of emergency medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, once ran a research center funded by the CDC. When federal funding stopped, the focus shifted away from gun violence, he said.
“If we look at the research and dedication to addressing other public health issues, the strategy to reduce gun violence has not received the same attention,” Hargarten said. “This is an emotional issue for all sectors, mired in discussions of rights and ownership. So it doesn’t get dispatched in scientific ways.”
Mark Rosenberg, former director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, had even stronger words. “The scientific community has been terrorized by the NRA,” Rosenberg said.
Some Liberal Bias Trickling In…
Mother Jones posted an analysis yesterday looking back at mass shootings (not tied to other crimes, like bank robberies) over the last three decades. It speaks to the ‘we need more guns’ meme currently popular on the right. Those darn facts:
In the wake of the slaughters this summer at a Colorado movie theater and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, we set out to track mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years. We identified and analyzed 62 of them, and one striking pattern in the data is this: In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun. Moreover, we found that the rate of mass shootings has increased in recent years—at a time when America has been flooded with millions of additional firearms and a barrage of new laws has made it easier than ever to carry them in public. And in recent rampages in which armed civilians attempted to intervene, they not only failed to stop the shooter but also were gravely wounded or killed.
There is no evidence indicating that arming Americans further will help prevent mass shootings or reduce the carnage, says Dr. Stephen Hargarten, a leading expert on emergency medicine and gun violence at the Medical College of Wisconsin. To the contrary, there appears to be a relationship between the proliferation of firearms and a rise in mass shootings: By our count, there have been two per year on average since 1982. Yet 25 of the 62 cases we examined have occurred since 2006. This year alone there have already been seven mass shootings—and a record number of casualties, with more than 140 people injured and killed.
Oh, and the Washington Post took a look at the stats in ten countries looking for a relationship between violent video and gun killings. (Do read the whole article.) It found a (slightly) inverse relationship.Gun Ownership as a Political Statement
Number cruncher Nate Silver over at the New York Times has tackled the connections between partisan outlook and gun ownership:
…If they identify as Democratic voters, the chances are only about one in four, or 25 percent, that they have a gun in their home. But the chances are more than twice that, almost 60 percent, if they are Republicans.
Whether someone owns a gun is a more powerful predictor of a person’s political party than her gender, whether she identifies as gay or lesbian, whether she is Hispanic, whether she lives in the South or a number of other demographic characteristics.
It will come as no surprise to those with a passing interest in American politics that Republicans are more likely to own guns than Democrats. But the differences have become much more stark in recent years, with gun ownership having become one of the clearest examples of the partisan polarization in the country over the last two decades.
A Thought for Gun Control Advocates
Finally (for today, anyway) Marc Ambinder over at TheWeek.com suggests that maybe fighting gun regulations is the wrong strategy. He makes a solid argument for placing limits on purchases of ammo:
…if there is an overlooked domain in the debate about gun control, it’s what to do with the most precious element in the supply chain. The 300 million guns that are in private hands aren’t going away; I can’t think of any law or incentive program that would suddenly make them disappear. When Australia decided to crack down on gun laws, it managed only to repurchase 600,000.
So as odious as it sounds, the argument that “criminals are going to get guns” is a valid one. Closing the private sale loophole might make it harder, as would common enforcement across states, but let’s face it: These instruments of hunting, aggression, and self-defense are here among us. There aren’t perishable. But bullets — bullets are a different story. An interesting story.
If you frequent “Survivalist” websites, you’ll find that one of the most pressing topics discussed is gingerly called ammunition life span management. Ammo has a shelf-life. Even good ammo. Guns are forever, but ammo degrades, even if stored in precisely proper conditions and humidors that criminals don’t often have.
School Reform in Washington DC Gets an F Minus
Michelle Rhee has become famous for ‘saving’ DC public schools. She’s capitalized on her ‘reform’ efforts to become a national leader amongst parent groups advocating for charter schools, parent triggers and union busting. Despite being fired from her post in the nation’s capital, she proudly points to how her programs were continued.
No doubt she’ll be changing her tune now that a study, reported in yesterday’s Washington Post says that math and reading performance among third graders has not significantly improved since 2007. Research shows that students who don’t read proficiently by the end of third grade are less likely to graduate from high school. Key quote:
Researchers used a weighted formula that scored schools based on the number of students in each test performance category: below basic, basic, proficient or advanced. Schools received between one and four points for each student, based on the student’s performance category.
The average weighted reading score for D.C. public schools fell from 2.26 to 2.19 between 2007 and 2011, while the average weighted math score rose from 2.14 to 2.2. Both changes were statistically insignificant.
The study also found no evidence of significant gains in public charter schools. Charter schools have higher average proficiency rates than traditional public schools, but Monday’s analysis found no significant difference between the two sectors.
A Story Not Likely to Be Picked Up by the UT-SD
The New York Times ran with a huge article Monday, detailing Wal-Mart’s ruthless road to becoming Mexico’s largest retailer. No law, it seems, was too insignificant to be broken. Bribes were used on a scale unheard of even in Mexico. Here’s a taste:
The Times has now picked up where Wal-Mart’s internal investigation was cut off, traveling to dozens of towns and cities in Mexico, gathering tens of thousands of documents related to Wal-Mart de Mexico permits, and interviewing scores of government officials and Wal-Mart employees, including 15 hours of interviews with the former lawyer, Sergio Cicero Zapata.
The Times’s examination reveals that Wal-Mart de Mexico was not the reluctant victim of a corrupt culture that insisted on bribes as the cost of doing business. Nor did it pay bribes merely to speed up routine approvals. Rather, Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited. It used bribes to subvert democratic governance — public votes, open debates, transparent procedures. It used bribes to circumvent regulatory safeguards that protect Mexican citizens from unsafe construction. It used bribes to outflank rivals.
Through confidential Wal-Mart documents, The Times identified 19 store sites across Mexico that were the target of Wal-Mart de Mexico’s bribes. The Times then matched information about specific bribes against permit records for each site. Clear patterns emerged. Over and over, for example, the dates of bribe payments coincided with dates when critical permits were issued. Again and again, the strictly forbidden became miraculously attainable.
Gosh, someday maybe some enterprising reporter locally will investigate what it took for Wal-Mart to get the green light in the San Diego market last year.
Tweet of the Day:
Seeing reports Boehner going with a “Plan B” on fiscal cliff, which I assume is bill to repeal Obamacare and name something after Reagan.
— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) December 18, 2012
The Starting Line is Taking a Holiday Break!
See you in two weeks. I’m headed to Cajun Country, hopin’ to come back with a full belly, a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Unless the world ends.
Have a Happy Holiday!
On This Day 1777 – General George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, PA, to camp for the winter. 1957 – “The Music Man” opened on Broadway. 2008 – President George W. Bush signed a $17.4 billion rescue package of loans for ailing auto makers General Motors and Chrysler. (Most Republicans think it was President Obama who signed the bill)
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Carlsbad (Roosevelt St. btw Grand Ave. & Carlsbad Village Dr.) 1 – 5 pm, Encinitas Station (Corner of E Street & Vulcan in parking lot B) 5 – 8 pm, Mission Hills (Falcon St. btw West Washington & Ft. Stockton) 3 – 7 pm, North San Diego at Sikes Adobe Farmstead (I-15 at Via Rancho Parkway. 12655 Sunset Dr., Escondido.) 11 am – 2 pm, Ocean Beach (4900 block of Newport Ave. btw Cable & Bacon Sts.) 4 – 8 pm, San Marcos – Cal State San Marcos (333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Rd., Parking Lot B) 3 – 7 pm,Santee (10445 Mission Gorge Rd. abandoned school parking lot) 3 –7 pm, Temecula (40820 Winchester Rd. Promenade Mall, parking lot btw Macy’s & Penny’s) 9 am – 1 pm
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