Commentary

The downward spiral continues: House Speaker to host shooting range fundraiser in April at undisclosed location

GOP gun fundraiserJust when you thought things had reached their nadir…

For those who don’t follow a lot of the strange machinations of the conservative fringe, you may find it interesting to learn that it’s a common practice for far right groups with ugly histories and connections to hold events at unpublicized venues. A couple of years back, for instance, a group with longstanding connections to white supremacists known as the Council of Conservative Citizens held its national conference in “the Winston-Salem metro area.”

By not publicly identifying the actual hotel at which the event would take place, the organizers presumably spared the hotel of bad publicity and discouraged the news media, protesters and other interlopers who might have shined a light on the hate being spewed inside.

Now, amazingly, it appears that a similar tactic has been adopted by the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives with respect to an event he has planned for next month.

As you can see from the announcement at left, the Speaker will host a big dollar fundraiser four days before the 2016 short session at “a local shooting range.” Rather than giving the address for the event — as is always done with these kinds of invitations (it’s usually a swanky private club) — the event informs the folks invited (most of whom will be lobbyists looking to bestow their last minute gifties prior to the ban that commences at the start of session) that “address and details will be provided upon RSVP.”

Now, in fairness, it seems unlikely that this event will be on the level of a Council of Conservative Citizens shindig and it’s at least possible that organizers haven’t finalized the details of the location yet. If that’s so, however, how can they be so sure of the timing?

The bottom line: By all appearances, the Speaker of the North Carolina House will be hosting a fundraiser for lobbyists next month at a shooting range and he plans to keep the location a secret. If nothing else, this is as depressing as heck and yet another symbol of how far our state has fallen.

Commentary

Sigh…NC voucher school benefits from assault weapons raffled off in February fundraiser

Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport

Smith & Wesson “M&P15 Sport” assault weapon

Here’s some really encouraging news to wrap up your Tuesday. A self-described North Carolina “Christian school” that receives thousands of dollars in public taxpayer funds supplemented its income last month via a “gun raffle” that gave away two semi-automatic “assault weapons” along with 10 other guns.

According to the Facebook page for the event, the guns were given away as part of a raffle to benefit the Halifax Academy in Roanoke Rapids (which uses the tagline “A Christian School”) on February 2. No word on how much cash the event brought in, but it seems safe to say that it was probably substantial. The school in question looks to be growing and doing pretty well and the gun raffle also appears to be an annual event.

In the New York Times today, a conservative Republican penned an article about the current presidential race entitled “What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?” From the looks of things, he might want to turn his gaze to Halifax, North Carolina as well.

Commentary

American gun killers: Doing a far better job than ISIS or Al Qaeda could ever dream of

Gun-violenceAmerican gun violence — that is to say, domestic murders carried about by Americans using killing machines manufactured. sold and delivered by rapacious corporations abetted by lackey apologists at the NRA and other extremist groups — are occurring with such frequency that we, literally, can’t keep up.

A visit this morning to the website of the good folks at North Carolinians Against Gun Violence reveals the following front page message:

Our Hearts are in Kalamazo

Kalamazoo, Michigan is the latest city in America to experience the shock and horror of senseless gun violence.  On Saturday, February 20th, a 45-year old man went on a rampage killing six innocent people and seriously wounding two others.

Once again we find ourselves facing tragedy.  Since the start of the New Year there have been 42 mass shootings. We are determined to stop this from becoming the new normal.

The devastation inflicted upon this community is tragic and the lives of the victim’s families have been shattered.  We vow to stand in solidarity with Kalamazoo against gun violence and demand that our lawmakers do more to keep our communities safe.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of this senseless act of violence. We pledge to take action to #preventgunviolence in their names.

But, of course, the Kalamazoo Uber driver shooting spree is now ancient history as it was almost six whole days ago. Today, our hearts are actually in Hesston, Kansas after another horrific mass shooting.

And what, you may ask, is the response to this insanity from conservative political leaders across the country? In a word, “nonsense.”

At the national level, the GOP presidential contenders are worried about building a wall to keep “terrorists” out. Earth to Trump, Cruz, Rubio, et al: The terrorists are already here. They’ve already perpetrated 40+ mass shootings in 2016 alone! Neither ISIS nor AL Qaeda could ever dream of such success.

Meanwhile, here in North Carolina, our pathetic and cowardly political leadership says it will likely call a special session of the General Assembly to “protect” and assure the “safety” of average North Carolinians from…wait for it…transgender people who want to use public restrooms! These are the same people who just spent vast amounts of precious lawmaking time last year making killing machines even more accessible than they already were.

One truly couldn’t make such an absurd situation up.

Commentary

Terrorism comes to North Carolina

Gun-violenceIt may not meet the definition typically associated with the word these days, but there should be no mistake that “terrorism” came to Lumberton, North Carolina yesterday.

Amazingly, however, it barely made a ripple in the news cycle. Raleigh’s News & Observer devoted all of a 130 words in a few buried paragraphs from A.P. to the genuine horror:

A 3-year-old boy has died after accidentally shooting himself with a handgun he found behind the counter of his father’s Lumberton convenience store.

Police Capt. Terry Parker told local media outlets that officers were called to the store around 11 a.m. Sunday.

Parker said the boy was at the store with his father, Manal Abdelziz of Laurinburg. The boy’s name was not released.

Parker said the boy found the gun under the cash register. He said the father’s attention had been diverted momentarily.

The boy was taken to Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton where he was pronounced dead.

Parker said the Robeson County District Attorney’s Office will decide whether charges are filed. It is illegal to have an unsecured gun in the presence of a child.”

Now, just imagine what the news coverage would have looked like if the child had been killed by someone who met the usual definition of “terrorist” — especially a “foreign terrorist.” There would be people in the street demanding vengeance, missile attacks, strategic bombings and perhaps even a declaration of war.

But, of course, here’s the remarkable truth: Since the end of the September 11 attacks in 2001, roughly 400 Americans have been killed in “terrorist” attacks. (The number balloons, of course, to 3,400 or so if you include the 9-11 horrors.)

During that same period, the number of Americans killed by gun violence is well north of 400,000. That’s more than 133 September 11 attacks! There were 372 “mass shootings” and 64 school shootings in the U.S. in 2015 alone. Gun murders in the U.S. occur at 30 times the rate in the United Kingdom.

Talk about terror. If Osama bin Laden were alive today, he’d no doubt be smiling at these data and the fact that American gun manufacturers and their apologists are taking on so much of the task he had assigned to himself and his followers.

Commentary

Somebody please ask Sen. Berger how Obama is “grabbing” guns

Sen. Phil Berger

Sen. Phil Berger

It’s disappointing but not surprising that political opponents of President Obama reacted to his announcement yesterday that he wants to expand background checks to cover more gun purchases with pathetic and misleading soundbites.

Obama’s plan is a common sense idea that everyone from the NRA to House Speaker Paul Ryan used to support, not to mention 85 percent of Americans and 79 percent of Republicans.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s response was typical, calling Obama’s executive action on guns “an unconstitutional gun-grab.”

Gun grab seemed to be the soundbite the Right decided would be the most effective and dishonest way to describe a proposal that takes nobody’s gun away from them but merely makes it harder for some people to buy a gun who should not be able to own one.

The only thing more frustrating was that Berger and NC GOP Chief Dallas Woodhouse, who also employed the gun grab phrase, were not asked by any reporters what they meant. How exactly does making more people undergo background checks when they buy a weapon grab anybody’s gun?

It doesn’t make sense. But that’s the point of course. Anything Obama proposes is horrible in the Berger/Woodhouse world view and any proposal to enforce federal gun regulations must be demogogued to stoke the Republican base.

Too bad most of the media outlets let them get away with it.