The NRA's dark vision
Who wasn't overwhelmed with emotion upon hearing the news this morning of 20 children killed in their school in Newtown, Connecticut?
America has seen too many of these tragedies of late. In a civilized country, this slaughter should not be allowed to go on.
Friday's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School is the second deadliest shooting in American history, but whether this mass tragedy will yield any legislative action on gun control laws remains to be seen.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the prime engines that keeps America's gun culture legally intact.
As the NRA's CEO says, "the guys with the guns make the rules."
Dangerous armed criminals have the right to walk freely into communities, parks and playgrounds, carrying hidden, loaded guns, thanks in great part to the NRA's relentless propaganda efforts for the "right to bear arms."
A year after the Columbine High School Massacre on April 20 1999, when 12 students and one teacher were massacred, I stood on the lawn of the Washington Monument listening to victims of gun violence plead for more gun control laws.
It was the "The Million Mom March," May of 2000, and I met many people that day whose lives had been changed forever by guns. And that afternoon, a young woman spoke, who was one of the 21 students at Columbine injured that day. She would be confined to a wheelchair for life. She also pleaded for gun control.
Since then, more mind-blowingly sick events like today's, gun shows continuing, the right to openly wear arms passed in one state, fewer laws to control the purchase of guns.
The NRA defines itself as the number one defender of Americans "right" to bear arms. It gives a "Ring of Freedom" to its biggest donors. "Since 2005, the NRA Ring of Freedom has been dedicated to building relationships with patriots like you, who seek to secure the future of freedom," the website says.
The NRA gets what it wants through campaign contributions, but also, through millions of dollars in off-the -books spending on issue ads and the like.
After the September 11 terrorist attacks, the NRA supported proposals to arm airline pilots with guns. Between 2001 and 2010, the NRA spent between $1.5 million and $2.7 million on federal-level lobbying efforts. During the 2010 election, the NRA spent more than $7.2 million on independent expenditures at the federal level, messages "that advocate for or against political candidates."
The messages primarily supported Republican candidates or aggressively opposed Democratic ones.
17 out of 28 NRA lobbyists in 2012 have previously held government jobs.
In the 2011-2012 election cycle, the NRA spent $17,624,423 to support or oppose candidates.
In 2011, they say the NRA spent $2,905,000 on lobbying.
As we shed tears for the victims of today's unbelievable tragedy, let us think about how we can create a safer and more secure future.
This starts at the polls, by voting for candidates who will vigorously support gun control legislation.
We must all stand up against the NRA's deadly vision. Let's ensure that its tentacles don't reach into Canada.
"We''ve endured too many of these tragedies in the last couple of years," Obama said today. He was reacting as a parent, he said, feeling overwhelming grief. "The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old."
The president stopped to collect himself. His heart was broken, our hearts are broken he said. "We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent tragedies like this regardless of the politics."
But he did not call for gun control.