Last Saturday’s episode of Foreign Correspondent touched on some interesting aspects of the National Rifle Association’s relationship with the American public post-Newtown, not the least of which is its aggression towards even limited gun control policy. Yet reports such as this often overlook a crucial target of the NRA’s lobbying: international arms control.
The NRA represents one of the most powerful lobbies in the United States, its tactics marking the end of many political careers. Reflecting this ability to remove politicians considered problematic for the cause, more than half the members of US Congress now have an “A” rating from the NRA for their voting record on gun rights. And this stifling of gun control reform has extended beyond American borders.
While the NRA does not fund like-minded international groups, it is certainly willing to support them by sending representatives to explain how to get the job done. In the aftermath of a series of gun laws passed by the Brazilian congress prior to 2003, at the time some of the world’s most restrictive, a top NRA lobbyist was sent south to advise local pro-gun groups.
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The human brain is an amazing thing. We cram it full of stuff and nonsense and song lyrics and daydreams and it rummages through the facts and factoids and sorts them into some sort of worldview.
We commit to that worldview; we get too attached. It’s called confirmation bias. We hunt down and prioritise information that reinforces what we already hold to be true; we ignore or dismiss that which threatens the edifice we’ve built from half-formed thoughts and snippets of Alan Jones.
My brain has eagerly absorbed dozens of headlines proclaiming that red wine and chocolate are good for you. But my Pollyanna grey matter blithely skips the ‘only in moderation’ footnote. It even hurt to write that, to be honest. That’s the pang of cognitive dissonance.
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Flanked by children who wrote to him after the Sandy Hook shooting last month, Barack Obama today proposed the strictest American gun laws since Bill Clinton’s assault weapons ban in 1994.
He deserves a lot of credit. It won’t be easy to push this legislation through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and America’s powerful gun lobby will resist, but Obama has signalled that he is willing to fight hard.
The President’s proposal would forbid the purchase of military-style assault weapons by civilians, while also banning high-capacity ammunition magazines and mandating universal background checks for gun buyers.
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Damn that Obama. He bamboozles you with a powerful speech and it’s only when he’s finished you realise he hasn’t actually committed to anything. Well, he committed to doing something. But it wasn’t gun control, not yet anyway.
It remains to be seen whether America would ever allow a black man to take away their precious guns – but his speech to the mourning people of Newtown offered, at last, a glimmer of hope.
Meanwhile, here, there’s a hint of the smugs about Australian gun control. Why can’t those crazy Yanks be more like us?
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According to the CNN White House correspondent this morning the President’s staff had “admonished” the press corps for raising the issue of gun laws in the wake of the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
Now is not the time for that sort of thing, apparently.
The President himself was careful to avoid even using the term “guns” in his tearful but composed statement on the shooting that has left 20 young children, and six innocent adults, dead. But he gave the strongest signal yet he was considering cracking down on the United State’s notoriously damaging gun culture.
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For hours, I’ve been arguing with my husband about how to start this column.
I want to begin as a mum, with an emotional response to America’s worst school shooting – to write about how sad and angry I feel that 20 little kids have been gunned down.
I want to express my sorrow for the families in Connecticut who will never again experience the joy of Christmas without grieving for a lost child – who are right now planning funerals instead of wrapping presents.
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Sad. Horrific. Tragic.
Three words that can be found instantaneously when reading or watching reports related to the Aurora theatre shooting that occurred in the early hours of Friday July 20th, where 12 were killed and at least 50 injured.
Thirteen years prior, only 15 miles away in Columbine, Americans were all too familiarly ‘shaken’ and ‘shocked’ by similar gun-related violence.
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There were four shootings in Western Sydney the night before last. Actually, no, make that five. Bullets fired at one home narrowly missed two young children who were playing computer games. It’s a quiet night if only one bullet goes through the front window lately.
So it’s a little disconcerting at first to note that one of the two parties holding the balance of power in the NSW Upper House is the Shooters and Fishers Party (the other being Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats). The O’Farrell government has to deal with them to get its legislative agenda passed over the objections of Labor and the Greens.
Obviously, the Shooters find the recent spate of gun crime in western Sydney abhorrent. They’ve proposed legislation that would make it a separate offence for someone to possess a firearm while committing a crime. It sounds sensible - having a firearm while committing a crime is only an aggravating offence under the current law. But as recently as last year the Shooters were arguing that all kids should be able to perform shooting as a school sport, as students at some private schools are currently allowed.
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Federal MP Bob Katter is a throw-back nutjob bunker-mentality troglodyte. Well, we’ve known that for a while. But this just in: His close associates and financial backers are gun-toting redneck heartless bastards with a slimy influence on politics.
Today’s Australian unravels the ties between Katter’s backers and the gun lobby. Including trophy pics of the financial powers behind Katter’s Australian Party with the exotic animals they’ve shot. Including a rare scimitar-horned oryx – officially extinct in the wild – and there’s also the above picture of David Auger, another financial backer, posing with a dead giraffe which, according to The Oz, he has shot.
What kind of fuckwit shoots a giraffe? Or a hippo?
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