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Mayor Bloomberg Pours Wealth Into Chicago Race; No One’s Really Sure How To React

This Tuesday, there will be a Democratic primary for a Congressional seat left open by the resignation of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. The race will be the first major election since Newtown so guns are at the center of this one. Several left-leaning Democrats are vying for the chair and all of them have one thing in common: they support gun control in a city known for its gun violence.

Except one candidate has defected, catching the eye of none other than Mayor Bloomberg.

Former Rep. Debbie Halverson is running on a gun rights platform, much to the support of the NRA and the rural districts outside of the Illinois hub. As a result, Independence USA, the Mayor’s quote-on-quote SuperPAC, is inserting bucket loads of cash ($2.2 million, to be exact) into anti-Halverson ads, spotlighting the woman for her position. The huge move comes after a November season where the Mayor was busy meddling in Congressional races concerning gun control and same-sex marriage across the country.

Like most New Yorkers, the political scene in Chicago is at a loss of words regarding the sheer personal wealth of the Hizzoner. The NRA has chosen to remain silent in the face of the new ads while a spokesperson for the Halverson campaign commented, “We’re just not going to let a guy from N.Y. dictate what’s going to happen in this election.”

But a message from the Illinois State Rifle Association pretty much sums up this story: “Bloomberg is coming to your state. Be ready.”

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Gun Groups File Claim Against Gov. Cuomo’s SAFE Act

Seriously, it was only a matter of time before this happened.

Yesterday, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, along with other gun groups, notified Albany that it would be threatening to sue the state over the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act. The bill, passed by large margins in the State Assembly and Senate, reinstates and expands the state’s ban on assault weapons, limiting magazine clips to seven bullets and adding universal standards for background checks and mental health care.

And all these measures, in the eyes of the gun groups, are unconstitutional by rule of the Second Amendment. As per usual, the claim (and eventual lawsuit) argues that the Act infringes upon gun owners’ rights to privacy and firearms. Also, the gun groups have made the case that it is unconstitutional to bar people from obtaining guns that were previously available just a few weeks ago.

However, the legal showdown anticipated by the Second Amendment enthusiasts might hit a consensus roadblock: Recent polls show that the support for gun control amongst New Yorkers is somewhere around 70%. And, from what we know happened with the same-sex marriage issue (twice), the courts tend to take Gov. Cuomo’s side on these overarching social mandates.

But that doesn’t rule anything out. The Voice will keep you updated.

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New York Becomes First State to Pass Gun Control Bill After Newtown

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address was entitled “New York Rising.” What happened yesterday in Albany might explain why.

In a 104 to 43 vote, the New York State Assembly officially passed the NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act on Tuesday afternoon. The bill was handed down from the State Senate, where it passed 43 to 18 late Monday night. In a signing ceremony on Tuesday evening, Governor Cuomo, alongside other top state officials, signed the bill, making New York the first state in the country to pass significant gun control measures after what happened in Newtown a month ago.

As President Obama weighs 19 executive orders related to the issue on a federal level, the NRA issued a statement in response to New York’s new law, calling it an “all-out assault on the Second Amendment and the law-abiding citizens of New York.” But, if the large margins in both of New York’s chambers are any indication, the gun-toting lobby group may be in the serious minority on this one.

The bill was heralded by New York’s upper echelon of power.

In no surprise to anyone really, Bloomberg applauded the NY SAFE Act and reprimanded the NRA for pulling the Second Amendment card, arguing that it “protects the Second Amendment rights of people and, at the same, it makes all New Yorkers safer.” And, in a statement released by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the top lawyer defended his boss’s landmark, too:

“With the passage of this legislation, our state has taken decisive action to protect New Yorkers from gun violence. By expanding the state’s assault weapons ban, limiting high-capacity magazines and improving background checks, among other measures, the Legislature and Governor Cuomo deserve credit for putting the safety of our communities first. I look forward to continuing to work together with my colleagues in government and law enforcement as we seek to expand our efforts to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”

Ranging from mental-health issues to improved data-gathering authority, the bill has a lot in it — a longitude of provisions that, knowing the nature of politics, attests to the remarkable pace that Albany actually got this thing passed. If you want to read the whole thing, The New York Times has it here.

Cheers to being a New Yorker. Now on to Washington.

 

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Mayor Bloomberg, President Obama and the Politics of Gun Control [UPDATED]

 

UPDATED (1/15/13): On the one-month anniversary of Newtown, we heard yet more news about gun control from our mayor and president.

In Baltimore, Bloomberg attended a summit on the topic at John Hopkins University and, once again, called for more action on a national level. His speech outlined his federal advisory role we mentioned in this post a few weeks ago; in it, he made clear the specific demands he has been discussing with Vice President Joe Biden’s task force.

In Washington, Obama gave the final press conference of his first term. Before chastising the House Republicans for debt ceiling stalemates, the president made clear that he would be reviewing the VP’s work this week. In addition, he stressed the need for a federal assault weapons ban — a demand that Bloomberg made clear just a few cities away.

Along with the ban, the mayor re-stressed the measures he made in his original USA Today op-ed. This includes: a more uniform system of background checks; appointing candidates to important positions in the ATF; and giving more leeway to federal agencies to collect data on gun trafficking. In a call to gun enthusiasts, he reminded the audience that the Second Amendment had no part in this conversation: “This is not a Constitutional question; it’s a question of political courage.” We’re sure that’ll go over well with the NRA.

Also, the mayor released a full report on the matter, signed by a hundred mayors from across the country. This newfound municipal universality adds even more steam to the issue.

We’ll keep you updated on what happens in Washington (and with our mayor) over the coming days.

UPDATED (1/6/13): As we roll on into January, the working group sanctioned by President Obama has been a tad busy. A few weeks ago, the White House instructed Vice President Joe Biden to hastily prepare its policy package full of gun control provisions to present to the new Congress in the days to come. This past weekend, we got a glimpse of just what they’ve been concocting behind closed doors.

Turns out, the White House is totally serious about doing this. And we received another tidbit of information that should come as no surprise to anyone: Mayor Bloomberg is calling the shots here.

According to reports, Biden’s team, seeking advice from one of the most notoriously NRA-hated Mayors in America, has been on the phone with the Hizzoner’s advisers. As a result, it turns out the platform that we’ll see in the next few weeks will look similar to the one laid out by the Mayor in USA Today mid-December (of which you can find later in this post). This includes universal background checks for gun sales, a newly expanded assault weapons ban, the branding of gun trafficking as a felony and the increased use of executive privilege to direct federal agencies’ resources.

Also, Bloomberg’s consultancy follows the trajectory of action he’s taken since Newtown. As you can follow below, we’ve had to update this post a few times to keep up with the Mayor, from his immediate statement after the Newtown massacre to his penned op-ed mentioned before. It’s safe to say that he’s using this rare conversational opportunity with gun control to the fullest.

Once the working group is ready to face the spotlight on the Hill, President Obama will flaunt the proposals on a nationwide stump. So we can definitely expect to see more of Mayor Bloomberg soon. If he’s going to call the shots, he’ll be there to defend them, too.

The Voice will keep you updated.

UPDATED (12/20/12): In the three days since this post originally went up, much has happened in Washington and across the country in relation to the politics of the boiling gun control debate. The NRA is expected to make “meaningful contributions” tomorrow, and Congress is preparing itself for a debate come January it hasn’t had in years: the extremities of the Second Amendment and the pragmatic approaches we must take to deter violence from them. As we said on Monday, it seems as if the prophecies were right: Newtown was the tipping point.

And at the center of this recent policy development are two major figures that we zoomed in on earlier: our Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, and our President, Barack Obama.

Yesterday, the man the NRA has called an “arrogant bastard” in the past penned an op-ed in USA Today, outlining six steps he deemed vital in national gun reform. To foster his argument, the Hizzoner used his backyard as an example; a metropolis that has seen its lowest crime rates ever, due, in his opinion, to its strict gun laws.

Soon after, President Obama held a press conference in a packed room with reporters and cameras to tell the nation what had to be done in post-Newtown America.

This is what’s going to happen: Vice President Joe Biden will lead a team of Cabinet members and outside groups to formulate significant gun control proposals by January. Once done, these will be sent to Congress for passage with the full backing of the executive branch. Also, in the meantime, President Obama has lent his support to a bill by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, which will reinstate the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

“Words must lead to action,” President Obama told reporters. “This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issues for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside.” No, that’s what deficit-reduction committees are for.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg’s op-ed echoed the same kind of urgency as Obama’s January deadline. Basically, both messages stressed a simple credo: the longer we wait, the more bloodshed we will see. Here are the six major steps he called for:

– The assault weapons ban mentioned above

– Reform the background check system for buying a gun

– Make gun trafficking a felony

– Appoint someone to head the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau. Little known fact: The position has been (surprisingly) vacant for the past six years.

– The Justice Department needs to crack down on gun criminals

– And gun dealers

Only time will tell if the two leaders are in sync with their ideas. But, with both voices coming in loud and clear, it’s evident that this explosive argument has only just begun.

Original Post:

On Friday afternoon, the horrific details coming in from Newtown immediately began to parallel a recycled conversation about gun control. With 18 children dead in the third major mass shooting of this year, spectators and major media outlets alike gawked at the insane level of violence, leading fellow Voice writer Nick Pinto to ask “Is the Newtown Massacre the Mass Shooting That Starts Us Talking About Gun Control Again?

With what has happened over the past week, several signs are pointing to the affirmative: The NRA has gone into serious hiding; Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has introduced a bill to Congress after this vacation that will severely limit the sale of assault weapons; choking back tears, President Obama mentioned in his press conference that “meaningful action” needed to be taken; and the awe is still settling over the fact that the killer, Adam Lanza, had access to a gun (which belonged to his mom) that looked like something out of Call of Duty. After 20 to 30 years of dismal progress, what happened in Newtown might be the tipping point for the unsettled issue.

And, who else to head this conversational shift than the NRA’s Most Hated Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg? The widely outspoken gun control advocate appeared on Sunday’s Meet the Press to voice a single message to the White House: President Obama, it’s time to take a stand.

“It’s time for the president, I think, to stand up and lead,” the mayor said on the program. “This should be his number one agenda. He’s president of the United States, and if he does nothing during his second term, something like 48,000 Americans will be killed with illegal guns.”
According to Bloomberg, one of the ways the commander in chief can make a difference in this battle to change the conventional wisdom on the Second Amendment is to support Senator Feinstein’s upcoming bill. The president has mentioned a few times that he would like to see a ban on assault weapons — most recently, after what happened in Aurora — and a sign-off from Obama would almost guarantee passage. Charging him with four years of inaction, Bloomberg weighed in on this bully pulpit potential as well.
“The president, through his leadership, could get a bill like that (banning assault weapons) through Congress, but at least he’s got to try. That’s his job,” the mayor said. On the day of the shooting, he first urged the president to use this dose of urgency displayed by Newtown as a clarion call for change. These sentiments were touched upon in a letter penned by himself and Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston:
We heard after Columbine that it was too soon to talk about gun laws. We heard it after Virginia Tech. After Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek. And now we are hearing it again. For every day we wait, 34 more people are murdered with guns. Today, many of them were five-year olds. President Obama rightly sent his heartfelt condolences to the families in Newtown. But the country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem. Calling for ‘meaningful action’ is not enough. We need immediate action.

But will the president heed Mayor Bloomberg’s advice and warnings? Obama is known as a cautious strategist, pragmatically nitpicking his political battles and gravitating toward the middle on certain positions in an attempt to satisfy both conservatives and liberals. However, he still has moments where he seizes the right opportunity at the right time: We cannot forget his support of same-sex marriage heading into the election season. So, to answer the first question posed here, we have to look at the risks of a gun control move.

Heading into his second term in office, the policy scenario in Washington has drastically changed. President Obama no longer has to worry about re-election or the loss of constituencies. Also, if this Election Day was any indicator, the NRA has lost its grip on the demographics. To win a modern-day election, you’re looking to guarantee the votes of women, the youth, and all those considered “non-Caucasian,” not the approval of gun-toting, rank-and-file NRA members. And Bloomberg mentioned that: His super PAC funded the successful campaigns of a few anti-NRA Congressional candidates.
Another major point to keep in mind: Most of the 290 politicians who took money from NRA this year were House Republicans. Regardless if he advances a gun control agenda or not, these guys are not exactly the friends Obama is calling up for a game of golf. Who cares if he ostracizes them? They have been anti-anything-Obama-does since day one on almost every policy that has been presented by him, let alone gun control. In terms of votes, theirs have been lost since the 2010 midterms.
So maybe Bloomberg has a point. Maybe the Newtown Massacre is the tipping point for gun control. The political risks are in the president’s favor. Now, it’s just a matter of seizing the moment.
Until then, we’ll leave you with this week’s opening of Saturday Night Live. Instead of its usual comedic monologue, the variety show dedicated the time to a performance by the New York City Children’s Choir of “Silent Night” to remember those lost on December 14, 2012.

 

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With Compromise In Sight, Gov. Cuomo Talks Gun Control In State Of The State Address

In recent weeks, we’ve been following the Governor’s actions regarding gun control quite closely. After the Newtown tragedy, Cuomo proposed a handful of measures to hopefully curb gun-related violence; one of which would be the strictest magazine clip ban in the nation. However, the momentum hit a wall in Albany, where Senate Republicans, after initially supporting the Governor’s actions, refused to hear out the Democrats’ proposals.

But, on the heels of news from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that state lawmakers were ‘95 percent‘ done with a gun control deal, the state’s top dog entered Albany yesterday to deliver his annual State of the State Address. His agenda included economic growth, the environment, Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, tourism and, most significantly for our conversation, gun control.

Although the issue didn’t dominate the speech as most predicted, Cuomo’s words reaffirmed the fact that he’s gung-ho about passing this proposal – if he does, it’ll without a doubt go down as one of his landmark achievements, in the vein of New York’s same-sex marriage bill. But we’ll let his words from the speech explain the current situation for you.

“And I say to you: forget the extremists. It’s simple. No one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs ten bullets to kill a deer,” Cuomo said.

(As per usual, a transcript is not available to the public; instead, you can check out this 300-page report, appropriately entitled ‘NY Rising,’ provided by the Governor’s office.)

The applause-ready line refers to the aforementioned magazine ban; a proposal that opponents think would lead to New York turning into ‘Nazi Germany’ because, as we all know,  Hitler was out to take away Second Amendment rights. In addition, the Governor extended the policy talk into the mental health factor. Inspired by the shooters behind Aurora and Newtown, the proposal that’s moving through Albany hopes to give the ability to counselors to revoke one’s gun license if he or she shows symptoms of violent nature. To supplement that, gun owners would be reviewed regularly to show that they are capable to handle a weapon.

In terms of the actual deal, Silver told reporters of the legacy at stake here: “New York leads the nation in everything; it’s time we lead the nation in this.” Apparently, the main linchpin for the Senate Republicans’ approval was the crime issue. To address this, the deal has a few new features. For tracking purposes, New York State will create a universal licensing system for sales. Also, law enforcement officials will have a wider breadth of authority to end illegal gun trafficking – a crime that would now have stiffer penalties for those involved.

According to Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Long Island, the negotiations are going well; as a result, a deal is predicted to be done by the end of this week. Wait, politicians are agreeing on something? That can happen? Where are we?

We’ll find out at the end of this week if this is too good to be true.

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Staten Island’s NRA Flare: Council Senselessly Votes for Putting Armed Guards in Schools

When Wayne LaPierre spoke to the world in the wake of Newtown, viewers and media folk alike gawked at the NRA chieftain’s worldview. Twitter was abuzz with anger as LaPierre proposed fighting guns with guns, swiftly condemning video games and the rest of society for the violence at hand. Not to mention the handful of “NRA Killing Our Kids” protestors that interrupted the speaker. Except, on the ground, the reaction was a bit different.

Several school districts across the country have been seriously considering this idea. Just last week, Voice writer Jason Lewis reported on the public schools in the Marlboro Township of New Jersey. There, the district’s Board of Education has instructed the local police to implement a 90-day pilot system where armed guards would hold down the educational fort. It’s currently in week two of operation.
And, now, the controversial move has hit a bit closer to home: Last night, the 10-member Staten Island Educational Council voted for a similar program, in which 300 to 500 retired NYPD officials would monitor the hallways dressed as ordinary (armed) civilians. The proposal will run as a recommendation to Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott and his department. But, regardless if it passed or not, the idea was DOA.
“It’s not going to happen,” Walcott told Fox 5’s Good Day New York yesterday. “We’d love a conversation. But armed guards, retired guards being hired in our schools? Not going to happen.” And that’s a fact.
As seen, Walcott is dutifully opposed to arming retirees for post-Newtown protection so the recommendation’s fate is the office shredder. Also, guess who has the final say in the end? The mayor who received control over the department a decade ago. And, all of the mayors in America, Bloomberg is the least likely to even dare consider having this armed force exist in his realm of jurisdiction. This is the guy whose busy advising the vice president on gun control.
However, the vote exists more as an indication of where some local conversations are heading: Community Educational Council 31 pitched the idea as parent-friendly and, according to the Daily News, it had a damn good amount of their support. The status of the armed guards as ex-cops certainly helped, too. And we already mentioned the Work In Progress in New Jersey before.
Oh, we forgot. Add to that list: school districts in Phoenix and Los Angeles.
Looks like this little blip is sticking around for a while.
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Gov. Cuomo’s Gun Control Push Already Hit A Wall In Albany

Did anyone expect this to go smoothly at all? Doubtful.

Echoing sentiments from both President Obama and Mayor Bloomberg, we learned last week that Governor Andrew Cuomo planned on making gun control a top priority after the Newtown tragedy. His administration called for tougher background checks for registration, a wider scope for New York’s already-existent assault weapons ban and, most significantly, a magazine ban that would limit gun owners to seven bullets a clip. The final measure mentioned would be the strictest of its kind in the nation.
However, as per usual, a push for gun control has been met with clear opposition from both inside and outside of Albany. The first time we reported this, we mentioned that the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association – a quasi-NRA offshoot lobbying group – was literally up in arms over the proposals, arguing that the Wayne LaPierre Approach to put guns in schools was best fit to protect our children.
Next week, Mr. Cuomo will deliver his State of the State address. It was expected that he’d announce some sort of deal or compromise on the issue beforehand. But, now, it doesn’t look like that’s happening anytime soon.
According to the Daily News, an insider source has told reporters that “the sides are still far apart,” meaning “a quick deal is unlikely” because, of course, it’s politics in the end. The source is referring to the Senate Republicans – a group that at first pledged to support further assault weapon restrictions soon after the Cuomo administration mentioned it would be pursuing them.
Time (a week) changes everything. The Republicans “are bulking on certain restrictions,” informing sources that this support wasn’t an all-out support for the Governor’s proposals… only a few of them, maybe. And this should be a given: in the original proclamation of support, the party never said exactly what restrictions they’d back. As we know, political strategy is all in the fine print.
As of now, the main block to agreement between Cuomo’s Democrats and the Senate Republicans is what an assault weapon actually is. But, after Newtown – the horrific catalyst to this revived issue – shouldn’t this no longer be a question?
Regardless, what’s most important here is that there’s an argument happening in Albany; an action that hasn’t been taken in too long. Something should be said to validate all this nonsense: the fact that this issue now has opposition, players and controversy means, as a talking point, it has arms and feet. And that’s the most progress lawmakers have made in years.
We said on Monday that gun control vitriol in Capitols across the country will define the months to come in 2013. Governor Cuomo will announce his proposals in his State of the State address next week. The Voice will provide commentary then.
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Gun Control In Albany: Cuomo Pushes For Strictest Magazine Ban In Nation

Governor Andrew Cuomo owns a gun. To be specific, it’s a shotgun that he keeps locked up in his Westchester home. He’s admitted to this; regardless, since his inauguration, he’s been strident on gun control, siding with Mayor Bloomberg on the need for more regulation in Albany and Washington. And that attention ramped up after Newtown: Cuomo declared that our national gun obsession was “fundamentally a federal matter” but “loopholes” remained in state laws.

While Obama attempts to tackle the former, Cuomo has set out after the latter, demanding that his colleagues confront the issue head on by expanding the scope of the installed assault weapons ban.
As of now, that ban only includes semi-auto shotguns and rifles and pistols with detachable, automatic magazine clips – however, after what happened in Webster, N.Y., on Christmas Eve, it seems as if more direct attention needs to be placed on what guns are actually being sold out there. To note, the shooter in Webster owned the same gun used by Adam Lanza: a Bushmaster assault rifle.
Also, the Governor seeks another provision in Albany: limiting magazines to seven bullets a clip. If passed, it will be the strictest limit on actual bullets our nation has ever seen. And this kind of sentence is usually followed by the politics of it all: yes, there are a few people who definitely do not want to listen to the Governor.
Advancing on a stance supported by a majority of Americans at this point, Governor Cuomo has mentioned that he sees no real reason for assault rifles in the public sphere: “I don’t think legitimate sportsmen are going to say, ‘I need an assault weapon to go hunting,’ he told the Daily News. Given, but that’s not a view shared by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.
However, this is a group whose President is telling its 40,000 members to file complaints against gun control legislation – or, basically, anything that proliferates out of this urge for more legislation – and push for armed guardsmen in school; a view we heard all too well from the NRA last Friday. And, if we’ve learned anything from Wayne La Pierre’s presser, it’s that we should probably stop listening to these people for our own good.
In addition to the aforementioned proposals, Gothamist has reported that talks in Albany have circulated about fixing loopholes in gun-free school zone law, tightening restrictions on registering for a gun and implementing some sort of buyback program. However, the last one could be deemed DOA: the Post is reporting that this kind of program, which works very well on a local level, would cost the state $1 billion. And that’s $1 billion that we probably do not have.
However, above all, the most important factor we have to take in account in this impending political battle is the shifting tides on this issue. As we have said before, Newtown has proven to be a tipping point (at least, conversationally) and it remains to be seen how politicians far and wide are affected by this new call to action from the voters that put and keep them in power.
With that being said, we’ll hear more from the Governor next month in his State of the State address.
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What ‘Meaningful Contributions’ Could The NRA Offer To The National Discussion On Friday?

 

As the horrific news came out of Newtown last Friday, the National Rifle Association went silent.

Its Twitter was inactive, its Facebook shut off and no word came from the organization that was on everyone’s mind this weekend. It witnessed its strongest political advocates bail, with Sen. Joe Manchin and former Rep. Joe Scarborough both airing their personal switch in beliefs. As a gun control conversation rumbled outside its door, the most powerful anti-gun-control lobby in the country went into a temporary hibernation. Until yesterday.

A statement was released by the Second Amendment activists, in which they told the nation that they were “shocked, saddened and heartbroken” by what happened on Friday. Also, the group cleared up the confusion as to where they’ve been: “we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.” But, perhaps the most interesting (and news-worthy) part of this press release was the ending.
“The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again,” the statement read.
This information will come to us on Friday but, with the nation breathing down its neck (check the Daily News cover yesterday), what could the NRA possibly offer to change everybody’s mind?
If the NRA was to cave on certain platforms, first and foremost would be the assault weapons partial ban proposed by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, set to hit Congress’s floor for debate in January.
As mentioned before, Mr. Manchin and Mr. Scarborough have doubled down on their previous titles as NRA darlings and it remains to be seen who else in Washington (namely, almost every House Republican) will backtrack on the lobby’s support. And rightfully so: after Newtown, this controversial issue carries with it yet another horrible weight and voters will react accordingly; in other words, it’s going to be hard to be pro-guns now and politicians know that. If a domino effect does occur, the NRA will be left with no one in Washington to represent its interests. Therefore, the organization could be forced to throw its support behind the bill.
Also, the NRA does not have to falter on one of its main ideals; pro-guns is not the same as pro-assault-weapons. Mr. Scarborough made this point in his internal monologue this week on ‘Morning Joe’: “our Bill of Rights does not guarantee that gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-styled, high-caliber, semi-automatic, combat assault rifles with high capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want.” The Second Amendment is not a right to bear all arms.
With national emotions still extremely fragile, it would be wise for the NRA to offer a toned-down rhetoric going forward as well. No more of this ‘We need guns for the revolution’ or ‘Obama’s taking away our guns’ nonsense. You can lobby against gun control in Congress – frankly, you have all the right to do that – but you’re treading on very thin electoral ice if you continue the charged rhetoric used in the past. Keep your ideas, leave the obsessive, masochistic talk of owning a gun behind please.
Regardless if what these ‘meaningful contributions’ may be, these policy cessations tell more about the power of the NRA. It is without a doubt that the lobby is one of the most powerful groups in Washington; the New York Times mentioned yesterday that the organization has a budget of $300 million or so. Its support is in the millions and the group decides elections in a few pockets of the country. But a lobbying group’s purpose is to influence policy through internal and external pressure; it shouldn’t have ‘meaningful contributions’ to give since, in essence, it’s promoting a single platform.
So, when a lobby is forced to negotiate its own stances on an issue, we finally see just how powerful that lobby has become. In this way, the NRA has become this weird socio-political amalgamation that is more like its biggest foe, Washington, than a simple pro-gun organization. Following this logic, it is swayed by the public and needs to cede sometimes in order to continue to exist in the national discussion. That’s a political strategy more than anything.
We’ll find out just what that strategy is on Friday. Stay tuned.
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NYPD: Putting The “Mass” Back In Mass Shooting. Are Cops To Blame For ESB Shootings?

Authorities have tallied the victims from Friday’s “mass shooting” at the Empire State Building, and as it stands, it wouldn’t have been a “mass” shooting at all if NYPD officers hadn’t squeezed off 16 rounds at deceased murderer Jeffrey Johnson — nine of the 10 victims were shot by police.

That’s right, what initially was reported Friday morning as a “mass shooting at the Empire State Building” was actually just one disgruntled ex-employee shooting a former colleague, whom he apparently blamed for his getting canned. Then the police showed up.

That said, there wouldn’t have been a shooting period if Johnson hadn’t decided to murder a former co-worker and then pull a gun on the officers — despite the fact that he wasn’t able to get off a single round before the cops took him out.

Regardless, there has been some criticism of how the police handled the situation — firing 16 shots into a crowded sidewalk perhaps wasn’t the best way to handle the situation, those critical of the cops have argued.

However, those critics probably haven’t seen the video of the shooting embedded above.

In video released by authorities, it’s clear Johnson pulled a gun on the officers and put it “right in their face.” The officers then opened fire — albeit into a sidewalk full of people.

As Gail Collins notes in a column for the New York Times, NYPD officers firing in the line of duty only are accurate 34 percent of the time, which is a somewhat troubling statistic.

That said, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said Saturday that the officers “responded quickly, and they responded appropriately. These officers, having looked at the tape myself, had absolutely no choice.”

We’d have to agree — regardless of how crowded the sidewalk, these officers had a gun in their faces. Not to mention, it all happened in the span of about five seconds. In other words, it’s no surprise that the chaotic scene — created by Johnson — led to a few inaccurate shots.

If you ask us, the only person to blame for Friday’s shooting is Jeffrey Johnson — regardless of how bad the cops’ shots were.

We want to know what you think, though: do the police share some of the blame?