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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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Gun violenceSchool “lockdowns” in response to gun violence: It’s become almost a daily occurrence in the U.S. Indeed, school gun violence incidents have gotten so absurdly commonplace that many of us don’t even blink an eye as the latest red-letter alert crawls across our computer or TV screens. As I write this, two more such lockdowns are underway — at Yale University in Connecticut and here in North Carolina at Vance-Granville Community College.  Talk about evidence that this madness is an equal opportunity plague.

It’s gotten so bad that it probably won’t be long before we see a news story like the following:

NRA calls for universal lockdown to combat school shootings

In response to the 750th American school shooting in the last six months, the National Rifle Association announced today that it is calling for an immediate, national and permanent lockdown of all schools, businesses and places of worship in the country. Under the NRA proposal, only individuals carrying firearms will be allowed to enter or exit any of the specified facilities. The proposal would make an exception for children under 12 entering and exiting under the protection of an armed parent or guardian.

“We’re just plain tired of people saying the NRA doesn’t care Read More

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Who said fabulously rich people don’t occasionally do and say some really smart things? As the Huffington Post reports:

WASHINGTON — Adolphus Busch IV, heir to the Busch family brewing fortune, resigned his lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association on Thursday, writing in a letter to NRA President David Keene, “I fail to see how the NRA can disregard the overwhelming will of its members who see background checks as reasonable.”

The resignation, first reported by KSDK, came a day after the Senate rejected a series of amendments to a gun control bill, including a bipartisan deal to expand background checks for gun sales. The NRA had vigorously opposed all those measures.

“The NRA I see today has undermined the values upon which it was established,” wrote Busch. “Your current strategic focus clearly places priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers while disregarding the opinions of your 4 million individual members.”

Read the entire story by clicking here.

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While Sen. Rand Paul was filibustering last week over drones, his Republican colleagues were engaged in stalling tactics of another sort, designed to prevent federal judicial nominees from ever taking their seats on the bench.

In this New Yorker piece today, Jeffrey Toobin explains why judicial appointments are becoming “one of the great missed opportunities of the Obama Presidency.”

Case in point: Caitlin Halligan, Obama’s nominee for the  D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — considered the second most important court in the nation:

A majority of the Senate voted to bring up the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, but forty-one Republican Senators voted to prevent her from receiving consideration. This is the modern version of the filibuster, far more common than Paul’s thirteen-hour speech. Without sixty votes, it’s now virtually impossible to accomplish anything in the contemporary United States Senate.

This was the second time that Halligan received majority support, but, because she never passed the threshold of sixty, her nomination now appears doomed. And so, in the fifth year of his Presidency, Obama has failed to place even a single judge on the D.C. Circuit. . . [which] now has four vacancies out of eleven seats.

Halligan is widely viewed by attorneys on both sides of the aisle as impeccably qualified to sit on the bench.  So what’s the problem? It turns out that while working in the New York Attorney General’s office Halligan wrote a brief supporting the efforts of her boss, Andrew Cuomo, “to make gun manufacturers legally responsible for some of the violence in New York, a position that the National Rifle Association opposed. The N.R.A. punished Halligan for doing her job for New York, and the Senate Republicans followed.”

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The New York Times gives voice to an appropriately pessimistic set of expectations about what the National Rifle Association will have to say when its leaders speak out today on the Newtown tragedy. Let’s hope the paper is wrong, but this part of the editorial seems almost sure to be on the money:

“We would like to believe that the N.R.A., the most influential opponent of sensible gun-control policies, will do as it says, but we have little faith that it will offer any substantial reforms. The association presents itself as a grass-roots organization, but it has become increasingly clear in recent years that it represents gun makers. Its chief aim has been to help their businesses by increasing the spread of firearms throughout American society.