Adam Winkler, a UCLA law professor, is writing a book and dug up some really interesting information about the NRA:
Reports indicate that the Obama administration may be considering new gun control proposals to limit the size of magazines or to strengthen background checks on gun purchasers. One thing you can bet on is that the National Rifle Association will oppose any such measures.
Yet it wasn’t always this way. Indeed, the NRA used to draft and promote restrictive gun control laws.
In researching my book, Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, I discovered that the NRA used to be far more open-minded on gun control — and, amazingly, paid almost no attention whatsoever to the Second Amendment.
The NRA was founded by William Church and George Wingate after the Civil War. Wingate and Church — the latter a former reporter for a newspaper not exactly known for its love of gun rights, the New York Times — both fought in the War on the Union side. They were shocked by the poor marksmanship of Union soldiers and convinced that one reason the Confederacy was able to hold out so long before surrender was because their soldiers had more experience shooting. Church and Wingate’s goal for the NRA was to improve the marksmanship of civilians who might one day be called to serve in the military, not to fight gun control.
These days, the NRA is known for its anti-government rhetoric; Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president, has called some federal law enforcement officers “a jack-booted group of fascists” and warned that “if you have a badge, you have the government’s go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law-abiding citizens.” Yet it was government largess in the form of subsidies and special sales of discounted firearms that helped the NRA grow in its formative years. Were it not for a generous government grant of $25,000 to buy land for a rifle range by the state of New York — a modern-day target of much NRA hostility — the NRA might never have gotten off the ground.
The old NRA also promoted gun control. In the 1920s, NRA leaders helped draft the Uniform Firearms Act — model legislation for states to adopt that established new, restrictive rules on carrying firearms in public. Karl Frederick, the NRA’s president, said at the time, “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons… I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.” The Uniform Firearms Act only awarded licenses to “suitable” persons with a “proper reason” for carrying and created a waiting period before a newly purchased handgun could be delivered to the purchaser. Today’s NRA, by contrast, fights to eliminate these very same requirements.
The NRA also endorsed the first major federal gun control law of the modern era, the National Firearms Act of 1934. During hearings on the proposed legislation, which imposed heavy restrictions on machine guns and other gangster weapons, Karl Frederick was asked how the Second Amendment affected this groundbreaking law. His answer was astounding: “I have not given it any study from that point of view.”
He discovered that a hardcore group of gun rights advocates (who thought guns should be for “personal protection” against a rising crime rate) who were angry over the NRA’s endorsement of the 1968 Gun Control Act basically staged a coup in 1977 and took control of the organization.
Imagine that. So even the NRA used to be sane.
This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters’ mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.
In a grim sign of the enduring nature of the economic slump, household income declined more in the two years after the recession ended than it did during the recession itself, new research has found.
Between June 2009, when the recession officially ended, and June 2011, inflation-adjusted median household income fell 6.7 percent, to $49,909, according to a study by two former Census Bureau officials. During the recession — from December 2007 to June 2009 — household income fell 3.2 percent.
The finding helps explain why Americans’ attitudes toward the economy, the country’s direction and its political leaders have continued to sour even as the economy has been growing. Unhappiness and anger have come to dominate the political scene, including the early stages of the 2012 presidential campaign.
President Obama recently called the economic situation “an emergency,” and over the weekend he assailed Congressional Republicans for opposing his jobs bill, which includes tax cuts that would raise take-home pay. Republicans blame Mr. Obama for the slump, saying he has issued a blizzard of regulations and promised future tax increases that have hurt business and consumer confidence.
I’ve been to Occupy Philly every day now, and it’s growing rapidly. Yesterday I dropped off some supplies and spoke to Erika Bell from the food committee. Right now, she said, they’re trying to batten down the hatches because rain’s moving in Wednesday.
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Here’s what they need:
- Wood pallets to keep the supplies off the ground.
- Tarps to cover supplies.
- Rolls of heavy plastic sheeting
- Large Rubbermaid-type containers
- Rain gear (ponchos, etc.)
- Bungee cords
If anyone has those freestanding backyard canopies, Occupy Philly is using them. I dropped off one of those folding chairs that come in the carry bags — they can probably use more of those, too. As usual, yoga pads, camping cots and mattresses, etc. are useful to those sleeping there.
Not everyone can camp out all night on Dilworth Plaza. (I, for one, am too old and arthritic.) But everyone can help. Thankfully, dropping off donations and supplies couldn’t be easier: Drive around City Hall, staying in the lane closest to the sidewalk. The food tent is on the north side of City hall (JFK Boulevard), directly across from the Municipal Services Building. Pull into the parking spot and if you need assistance, someone will help you unload.
We’re thisclose to a global financial meltdown, and how have the Powers That Be decided to handle it? Some bold, decisive action like breaking up the banks and forcing investors to take their losses? Don’t be silly. They’re going to extend and pretend, just like we did here in the United States — and look how well that worked out!
PARIS — PARIS — Europe’s debt crisis hit another milestone on Sunday when the French and Belgian governments agreed to nationalize Dexia, Belgium’s biggest bank, infusing it with billions in taxpayer money after it became the first casualty of the Greek sovereign debt crisis.
The move came as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France acknowledged that Europe’s banks still needed billions of euros more to cushion against a possible Greek default. In meetings Sunday in Berlin, they announced that they would have a “comprehensive solution” by the time leaders of the G-20 group of nations meets in early November in Cannes, France.
“We are determined to do what is necessary to guarantee the recapitalization of our banks,” Mrs. Merkel said.
But they declined to provide any specifics on how it would work, or how much money they would commit, which could unnerve investors who hoped to see the governments take more decisive action.