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How long before the NRA -- the "No Responsibility Association" that disclaims any blame whenever gun violence takes place -- becomes politically toxic? The groundswell of editorials against the NRA's stances signals that at least the debate about the NRA is changing.

The editors at New York Daily News pen a blistering piece against the NRA and the zombie-politicos under its spell:

Two Democratic senators with top National Rifle Association ratings on Monday started what must be a groundswell for lifesaving gun controls.

Change must echo through the halls of Congress. Not next week, not next month. Now.
As Newtown’s families begin the nightmarish task of burying their sons and daughters, give credit to gun-rights stalwarts Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Warner of Virginia for finally entertaining the possibility of limiting virtually unfettered access to assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

And heap shame upon the dozens of others who remain under the spell of the firearms lobby, which time and again has shrugged off mass murder as someone else’s business.

Timothy J. Heyne's wife was murdered and he himself was seriously wounded during a gun attack in 2005. In The San Francisco Chronicle, he writes a powerful argument against the NRA bullies who have blood on their hands. Read it, share it, act on it:
I still carry a bullet in my lung, scars on my body, an actual hole in my chest (and a much bigger one in my heart) that remind me daily about this madness and how small your chances are in front of a killer in a rage armed with semiautomatic handgun. I've felt the torque of bullets plowing into me, seen loved ones' eyes roll back in their heads and mouths that will never speak or kiss again. So don't give me your twisted red, white and blue rhetoric that it's un-American to establish sensible gun laws. What is un-American is that we stand by and do nothing as our loved ones are slaughtered!

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the right to bear arms is protected by the Constitution, but what type of weapon and where and how it can (and can't) be used and owned can be regulated. Where do we start? We get the assault weapon ban that sunsetted during the Bush era reinstated. We stop permitting the sale of extended magazines that permit these monsters to fire hundreds of rounds of death just as fast as they can pull a trigger. We unify background checks throughout the nation, and we close the gun-show loophole that permits unlicensed sellers to peddle their wares without so much as showing a driver's license in some states. All of these are just common sense. None of these laws impedes the right of a safe and legal gun owner.

The NRA and the gun lobby are at the core of most of this bloodshed. Not the rank and file. I've spoken to many, many NRA members who share my views on safe and sensible gun laws. It's the gun lobby hierarchy that crafts and distorts the message and conversation to make it all about America, the Constitution and whatever other drivel they can make up to keep their coffers and political influence fat and their paranoid and fear-driven propaganda flying. They are insidiously evil entities that make the tobacco lobby look like the Make-A-Wish campaign by contrast.

Paul Waldman at The New York Times reminds Washington that NRA bullies actually wield very little vote-moving power:
The National Rifle Association tells elected officials that if they support any kind of restriction on guns, they are doomed to defeat at the polls, and many of them believe it. The truth, however, is that not only does the N.R.A. have virtually no effect on elections, the public is quite open to any number of sensible restrictions on guns.

This year, the N.R.A. spent over $13 million in a failed attempt to defeat President Obama. In the Senate, the group spent over $100,000 in eight races trying to elect their favored candidates. Seven of the eight lost, most by comfortable margins. That pattern is repeated in election after election.

The Star-Ledger Editorial Board:
Former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough, of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” came out forcefully against the gun lobby, echoed by his guest, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin — a conservative Democrat from a pro-gun state, who fired a rifle in his campaign commercial.

Another NRA-endorsed senator, Mark Warner of Virginia, chimed in on Twitter.

All three called for stricter gun laws. Manchin said he’d consider restricting military-style, rapid-fire assault weapons and clips that hold dozens of rounds of ammunition. And as most Republicans and gun control advocates remain locked into their positions, it’s people such as this trio who could pivot our national debate.

Apparently, a fleet of child-sized caskets has replaced the symbolic struggle between individual rights and government control with a more urgent question: What can we do to stop these atrocities?

Daniel Webster, professor and the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, writing in The New York Times:
Extremists views on weapons that oppose any regulation on guns and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition may be gaining ground in some parts of the country. But the spate of mass shootings, particularly the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the extreme stances by the N.R.A. will certainly make some gun owners speak out for common sense reforms that would save lives with little or no impact on truly law-abiding gun owners.

The former House member, Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously wounded in a mass shooting almost two years ago, and her husband, Mark Kelly, are the obvious candidates to take up this cause. Both are long-time gun owners whose lives have been devastated by gun violence. Kelly was one of the first to challenge elected officials to put citizen safety ahead of special interest lobby groups following the Sand Hook shooting. Others will follow. Joe Scarborough, former U.S. Representative with an A+ rating from the N.R.A., had harsh words for the N.R.A. and the gun lobby as he called for meaningful reforms to our gun policies.

The N.R.A. is not going away and will continue to be a force in gun policy and politics. But expect more gun owners to follow leaders like Giffords, Kelly and Scarborough. This will be the game-changer.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), writing in the Chicago Tribune:
What holds us back [from rational gun control laws] are political organizations that are well-funded, well-organized and determined to resist even reasonable limitations. There is a close political parallel between the gridlock in Washington on dealing with our economy and national debt and the eerie silence in Congress as the list of horrific gun crimes grows by the day.

Too many of my colleagues just shrug their shoulders when gun issues come to the floor for a vote. They have made Grover Norquist-like pledges and feel duty-bound to vote "right" on every score card issue.

My wife and I grew up in families of hunters. We know the rite of passage when a father can take his son or daughter out hunting. I know the fun of watching the sun come up on a duck blind and hearing a seasoned hunter calling them in over the water. The hunters I know are good people who love the sport and hate the people who use firearms to terrorize and kill. We need for these hunters to join with many Americans who have never owned or used a firearm and call for a reasonable standard for gun use and ownership.

Until we do, the number of victims of gun tragedies will continue to grow and the silence of their funerals will be matched by the silence of those who have the power to change it.

The New York Times editorial board:
The challenge for the antigun-control side was put well by Mr. Scarborough, who said Monday that he had changed his view of the gun debate as a question of individual rights versus government control, and now sees it as an issue of public safety. There are no rights granted by the Constitution that are so absolute that they erase concerns about public safety and welfare.

There is reason, this time around, to hope that both parties can shake off the N.R.A. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York pointed out on Sunday that the lobby had failed to defeat Mr. Obama this year. And Representative John Yarmuth, a moderate Democrat from Kentucky, said: “The National Rifle Association has spent untold millions of dollars instilling fear in our citizens and our politicians. I believe it is more rational to fear guns far more than the illusory political power of the N.R.A.”

In fact, poll after poll has shown that N.R.A. members themselves are not opposed to measures like criminal background checks on gun sellers and gun buyers.

David Weigel:
The pattern repeats after every massacre and after every election of a Democratic president—sales of firearms and ammunition surge before the liberals can supposedly engineer their inevitable bans. Anyone who’s been to a gun show since 2008 has seen the rising prices and the religious certitude that President Obama will make a run at the Second Amendment, just like Illinois state Sen. Obama did in the 1990s.
The irony of the Great Ammo Panic: Liberals have failed to restrict sales, even as the interstate and online purchase of ammo has become easier. One of the NRA’s greatest legislative successes, the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, let dealers sell ammo without recording vital information about the buyers. That law eventually facilitated the online ammo market, which allows sites like CheaperThanDirt to sell 30-round extended clips for $8.99.
Meanwhile, the NRA proves that it's simultaneously run by bullies and cowards. From Mashable:
The National Rifle Association has abandoned its social media communities following Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The NRA's Facebook page has been shuttered and it hasn't tweeted since Friday. [...]

Beyond the social web, the NRA has not made any official statements following the tragic school shooting.

UPDATE: Greg Dworkin at The Arena:
Assault weapons and high capacity magazines have no place in American society. And while thoughtful people everywhere understand that there's no easy solution to either gun violence or mental health issues, it is unacceptable that the assault weapons ban was allowed to expire in 2004, and supporting mental health discussions is not a substitute for discussing rational gun policy.

Want to do more (background checks and private sales)? Is more the right thing to do? Can we do it and still respect gun rights and ownership?

Let's have that discussion. Let's have it now. We need better policy, not more heroes.

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Originally posted to Daily Kos on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 04:38 AM PST.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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