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This morning, I read through Cognoscenti on WBUR about the NRA mouthpiece Wayne LaPierre's testimony before Congress in January, repeating his trusty old wisecrack about how we need to enforce existing gun laws.

Although I have written before about how the NRA takes great pains to weaken existing laws, and to stymie the efforts of law enforcement, it's not surprising at all to read today that the NRA manipulates statistics to make prosecutors look bad for actually doing their jobs.

Here are some examples of the sort of gun laws that the NRA counts as "un-prosecuted". (emphasis mine)

Typically in a criminal case involving a firearm the most serious charge is the offense committed with the gun, not the possession of the gun itself. For instance, a gun murder case will typically consist of a first- or second-degree murder charge, and a separate illegal possession of a firearm charge, assuming the gun wasn’t properly licensed to the individual charged. If the defendant is convicted, the judge typically sentences on the lead charge — murder — and might order the sentence on the gun charge to be served concurrently with the murder charge. The criminal has been convicted and is serving time, but because the gun conviction is not being served as a consecutive, or add-on, sentence, the NRA counts it as an unenforced — which is voiced in the organization’s parlance as an un-prosecuted — offense.

Another example might include a serious offense involving a gun for which the defendant is convicted, but the gun charge is “filed,” which is a somewhat vague judicial exercise resulting in the sentence being imposed on the case’s most serious charge, be it intent to murder, armed robbery, rape. Again, the criminal is convicted and imprisoned, but the NRA isolates the filed gun charge for inclusion in its unenforced column.

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's million-dollar-a-year executive vice president who is the chief strategist behind the organization's aggressive political strategy.
So while LaPierre and the NRA often repeat this claim, as I can also find it dating back to before xmas...
“You can’t legislate morality,” he added. “We don’t prosecute anybody under federal gun laws right now. If you want to control violent criminals, take them off the streets.”
LaPierre neglects to mention that most gun crimes are handled at the state level, and he treats convicted criminals in prison as "un-prosecuted" if it serves his purpose. The Cognoscenti piece also points out the NRA's fixation on prosecutors as opposed to police in relation to its purpose.
It’s somewhat artful that the NRA consistently talks about lack of prosecution, not lack of arrests. This might be attributable to the organization equating prosecutors, more than police, with government overreach, a great source of NRA paranoia (it’s interesting how the NRA’s strong-government phobia co-exists with its howls for expanded prosecutions). Or perhaps they wish not to offend their own board members, many of whom are current or former law enforcement officers (none are prosecutors).
It may also be because arrest record statistics don't fit the NRA's preconceived notions about enforcing existing laws, in line with their stated goal of no new gun laws. But the mention of government phobia fits in well with another little news item from over the weekend.
WAUSAU, Wisconsin— At a state conference this past weekend, the NRA helped distribute a newspaper that called for Wisconsin secession and a new civil war.

The article, which appeared in a Wisconsin-based conservative publication called “The Reality News”, was among the literature being distributed at the NRA’s Wisconsin State Convention on February 9th.

In “What Would Davy Crockett Say?”, author Karl P. Koenigs calls for liberating “our home country of Wisconsin.” If that doesn’t work, Koenigs advocates “a combo Civil/Re-Revolutionary War” to “restore the Rule of OUR Laws on our elected, non-elected and wannabe elected Republican and Democrat Federal servants through the refreshment of the Tree of Liberty by its natural manure.” The last part is a reference to the Thomas Jefferson quote that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

The NRA maintains plausible deniability, of course, by not having written the newspaper itself, but they have allowed secessionist drek to be freely distributed at their own convention. Drek with the money quote: "ELECTIONS ARE NOT THE SOLUTION TO OUR PROBLEM; ELECTIONS ARE THE PROBLEM!"

Yes, well. The Republican party -- and the NRA, which overwhelmingly supports Republicans with its cash and lobbying efforts -- is definitely the party looking to "solve" the "problem" of elections, isn't it.

AR-15 silhouette
So it does seem proper to mention that the NRA takes advantage of the ideas of government overreach, phobia, and general paranoia, encouraging these views through items like this newspaper. In the process, they work to bolster their membership, and of course the profits of gun manufacturers, who are quite ready to capitalize on the fringe right-wing paranoia of some gun owners. Although, judging from the response of these types to the mass shooting in Sandy Hook, even the manufacturers underestimated the demand.

Some of us work to reduce gun violence in the country; meanwhile, others put AR-15's and its ammunition magazines on backorder after they've been sold out. More's the pity.

Originally posted to The Tytalan Way on Tue Feb 12, 2013 at 08:39 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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