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For a while this morning on WRAL.com, the following three headlines appeared consecutively near the top of the website:

One shot at Stanly County high school
Police in Albemarle report one student has been hurt and another person is in custody after a shooting at Albemarle High School.

Despite clarion call, youth violence continues in Fayetteville
In July, city and county leaders called for an end to youth violence in Fayetteville, but violent incidents involving youth have since continued in the city, including the shooting death of a 16-year-old Saturday night.

Indoor ‘mega’ shooting range coming to Raleigh
When it’s complete, an indoor shooting range in northwest Raleigh will be one of the largest in the nation and will offer more than target practice and guns for sale, the facility’s founder and owner says.

Meanwhile, the rate of fire arm-related deaths in countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and Japan (where tougher gun laws generally keep deadly firearms better regulated) remain a small fraction of the U.S. rate.

Commentary

The good people at Everytown for Gun Safety have launched a powerful new campaign to convince the giant Kroger grocery chain to prohibit customers from openly carrying weapons in its stores. The campaign features three powerful photographs that highlight the absurdity of Kroger’s current policies — which prohibit customers from bringing in outside food, skateboards or shopping shirtless, but that do not prohibit openly carrying, for instance, assault rifles.

Below is one of the powerful images featured in the campaign — click here to see the other photos and to lend your name to the petition:

Kroger gun policy

Photo credit: Everytown for Gun Safety – everytown.org

 

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Target assault weapons

Photo credit: Everytown for Gun Safety (everytown.org)

(Updated: As the comment below notes, Target has responded positively to the concerns expressed by people across the county and issued a statement requesting customers not to bring firearms to their stores.)

The good people at Everytown for Gun Safety have launched petition drive to demand that Target stores join the growing list of responsible companies that ban customers from openly toting weapons in their businesses.

This is from a recent appeal by a concerned mom in San Antonio, Texas named Jamie Addams:

“Which seems more threatening to you? A group of moms openly carrying babies and petitions, or a rally of men and women openly carrying loaded semiautomatic rifles? According to Target, it’s the moms.

Our volunteers in San Antonio were supposedly asked to leave because Target provides a ‘distraction free’ shopping environment. I don’t know about you, but I think the open carry of loaded semiautomatic rifles in Target stores and parking lots is pretty distracting when I’m out shopping with my kids.

Sign the petition to Target today and tell them that welcoming gun extremists and kicking out moms and kids is completely #OffTarget: http://act.everytown.org/sign/target-petition/

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GunsReporter Ana Marie Cox attended this past weekend’s National Rifle Association annual meeting and came away with some interesting insights — most notably that the organization’s noxious overall objectives often differ from those of the rank and file. As she notes:

NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre exhorted the crowd to a morally obligated vigilantism. He drew a vivid picture of a United States in utter decay and fragmented beyond repair, Mad Max-meets-Hunger Games, divided by Soylent Green:

‘We know, in the world that surrounds us, there are terrorists and home invaders and drug cartels and car-jackers and knock-out gamers and rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping-mall killers, road-rage killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids, or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse the society that sustains us all.’

LaPierre’s bleak vision is exaggerated dystopianism in service of sedition, a wide-ranging survey of targets that put justice against the intrusions of the IRS on a continuum with (as an advertisement he ran during his speech put it) workplace ‘bullies and liars.’

Talk about mission creep. Read More

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As was noted in yesterday’s Weekly Briefing, “A Tax Day sermon,” it can be a fascinating exercise to briefly contemplate just how far to the right American politics have been pushed in the last few decades as a result of the influx of big corporate money.

“In 2014, the United States is a place: in which a deranged Nevada cattle herder named Cliven Bundy can defy federal law and be transformed overnight into a far right celebrity, in which the party of Lincoln in one of the stronghold union states of the Civil War can vote to explore secession, in which conservative religious groups who claim to follow the teachings of a humble and un-propertied carpenter can champion tax cuts for the rich and in which North Carolina — one of the old confederate states that has made such great headway in escaping its dreadful and reactionary past – can roll back several decades of painstaking progress toward modernity in as many months.”

Here’s another rather amazing indicator: the nation’s disastrous abandonment of the settled meaning of the Second Amendment. In his new book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution” (an excerpt of which appeared recently in the Washington Post) retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens (a 1975 Ford appointee) proposes returning the Second Amendment to its long-settled meaning by adding five words (italicized below) so that it would read:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

Stevens’ proposal makes obvious sense and the fact that we would have to go to such trouble shows just how far out of hand things have gotten. Here’s another amazing indicator from Stevens’ book of our mass, national departure from common sense: a quote Stevens attributes to former Chief Justice Warren Burger — another conservative Republican. This is from Stevens’ book:

“When I joined the court in 1975, that holding was generally understood as limiting the scope of the Second Amendment to uses of arms that were related to military activities. During the years when Warren Burger was chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge or justice expressed any doubt about the limited coverage of the amendment, and I cannot recall any judge suggesting that the amendment might place any limit on state authority to do anything.

Organizations such as the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and mounted a vigorous campaign claiming that federal regulation of the use of firearms severely curtailed Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Five years after his retirement, during a 1991 appearance on ‘The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,’ Burger himself remarked that the Second Amendment ‘has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.’” (Emphasis supplied).

To which all a caring and thinking person can add is: “Amen (and amend).”