Among the major accomplishments of the National Rifle Association:
- In July, 2005, George Zimmerman was arrested for shoving a police officer during an underage drinking raid. The charges were dropped after he completed an alcohol education program. That same summer, his ex-fiancée filed a restraining order against him, alleging that Zimmerman hit her.
- Yet he was allowed to carry a loaded, hidden handgun as a Florida resident–under the 2005 “Stand Your Ground” law the NRA had rammed through the legislature.
- Under that law: A Concealed Carry Permit is revoked only if a gun owner is convicted of a felony. It is not suspended if he’s being investigated for a felony. It is suspended only if he is actually charged.
- On February 26, 2012, Zimmerman shot unarmed, 17-year-oldTrvon Martin, who was wearing a “hoodie.” In March, the NRA issued its own version of a “hoodie”–the Concealed Carry Hooded Sweatshirt, designed to hide firearms. Selling on the NRA’s website for $60 to $65, it is advertised thusly:
- “Inside the sweatshirt you’ll find left and right concealment pockets. The included Velcro®-backed holster and double mag pouch can be repositioned inside the pockets for optimum draw. Ideal for carrying your favorite compact to mid-size pistol, the NRA Concealed Carry Hooded Sweatshirt gives you an extra tactical edge, because its unstructured, casual design appears incapable of concealing a heavy firearm – but it does so with ease!” http://www.nrastore.com/nrastore/ProductDetail.aspx?c=11&p=CO+635&ct=e
- Anyone—including convicted criminals—can buy these “hide-a-gun” sweatshirts, putting both the public and law enforcers at deadly risk.
- The NRA often claims that law-abiding citizens defend themselves with guns millions of times every year. But the FBI has determined that, of the approximately 11,000 gun homicides every year, fewer than 300 are justifiable self-defense killings.
- The NRA supports loopholes that allow criminals to buy guns without background checks, or allow terrorists to buy all the AK-47s they desire.
- The NRA’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, says the NRA is “all in” to defeat Barack Obama. Yet the President has meekly signed legislation allowing guns to be brought into national parks and onto trains. Since becoming Chief Executive, he has made no effort to curb gun violence.
- High-capacity magazines were prohibited under the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban. It expired in 2004. The NRA–aided by the Bush administration and Republicans generally–easily overcame efforts to renew the ban.
- Political scientist Robert Spitzer, author of the book The Politics of Gun Control, notes that since the passage of the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and the assault weapons ban in 1994, state and national laws have been drifting toward more open gun access:
- “In 1988, there were about 18 states that had state laws that made it pretty easy for civilians to carry concealed hand guns around in society. By 2011, that number is up to 39 or 40 states having liberalized laws, depending on how you count it, and the NRA has worked very diligently at the state level to win political victories there, and they’ve really been quite successful.”
- On January 8, 2011, Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents outside a,Tucson, Arizona, grocery store. Also killed was Arizona’s chief U.S. District judge, John Roll, who had just stopped by to see his friend Giffords after celebrating Mass. The total number of victims: 6 dead, 13 wounded.
- “The NRA’s response to the Tucson shootings has been to say as little as possible and to keep its head down,” says Spitzer. “And their approach even more has been to say as little as possible and to simply issue a statement of condolence to the families of those who were injured or killed and to wait for the political storm to pass over and then to pick up politics as usual.”
- In the spring of 2012, the House Oversight Committee prepared to vote on whether to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for allegedly refusing to provide documents related to “Fast and Furious.” This was an undercover operation launched by the Bush administration to track firearms being sold to Mexican drug cartels. The NRA notified Congressional members that how they voted would reflect how the NRA rated them in ”candidate evaluations” for the November elections. This amounted to blatant extortion, since the NRA has long accused Holder of having an “anti-gun” agenda.
Summing up the current state of gun politics in America, the April 21, 2012 edition of The Economist noted:
“The debate about guns is no longer over whether assault rifles ought to be banned, but over whether guns should be allowed in bars, churches and colleges.”
That is precisely the aim of the NRA–an America where anyplace, anytime, can be turned into the O.K. Corral.
So what should the surviving victims of the Aurora massacre do to seek redress? And how can the relatives and friends of those who didn’t survive seek justice for those they loved?