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Standing Your Ground in the NRA's America

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The National Rifle Association (NRA) has systematically manipulated Congress and many State Legislatures into adopting dangerous gun policies, allowing virtually unrestricted and undetectable access to powerful firearms by criminals including gang members, convicted felons and terrorists. These policies combined with the Stand Your Ground (Shoot First and Ask Questions Later) laws enacted in 23 Republican controlled "Red" states result in state sponsored vigilantism, more gun violence, and an increase in unprosecuted homicides. In the process, legislators have tied the hands of law enforcement and rendered prosecutors powerless thereby allowing more criminals and vigilantes to get away with murder. The result: over 30,000 Americans die and more than 100,000 are injured every year from largely preventable gun violence. In fact, over the past 30 years more Americans have died from gun violence, than all U.S. service men and women killed in all foreign wars combined!

The NRA and the gun industry have intentionally created an atmosphere of fear and paranoia designed to sell more guns. A sad result of this fear mongering has been the perpetuation of a cultural war between urban black and suburban white Americans. In 23 states anyone can literally "kill at will" if they simply claim they feel threatened. These NRA inspired racist gun policies overwhelmingly impact urban black Americans and the recent Trayvon Martin and Tulsa, Oklahoma killings are just two of many examples.

A recent Children's Defense Fund report states that in 2008 and 2009 black males 15-19 years old were eight times as likely as white males to be gun homicide victims. Additionally, black children and teens, while only 15 percent of the population, accounted for 45 percent of the 5,740 child and teen gun deaths during the same period. Further, since the 2005 Stand Your Ground law went into effect in Florida there has been a tripling of homicides that could not be prosecuted.

Sound crazy? Yes. Here are the facts about local and national gun policies the NRA and their supporters in Congress and State Legislatures have successfully opposed and supported.

NRA OPPOSED Federal and State laws requiring criminal background checks or proof of identification for all gun sales. Only federally licensed gun dealers are required to perform criminal background checks, and 33 States do not require background checks for private gun sales. For years, domestic criminals and international terrorists such as al Qaeda and Hezbollah have legally bought assault rifles at U.S. gun shows without detection. Thanks to NRA lobbying efforts even people on suspected Terrorist Watch/No Fly lists are allowed to legally purchase firearms.

NRA OPPOSED a federal ban on military style assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips like the firearm used to shoot Rep. Gabby Giffords and those used at most school shootings. The NRA has even opposed a ban on .50 caliber sniper rifles capable of disabling an armored vehicle, an airplane or a helicopter at distances of over a mile.

NRA OPPOSED National Consumer Product Safety Commission manufacturing and marketing standards for firearms. Toy guns, teddy bears and every other consumer product, except real guns, are regulated by the federal government. Guns are legally marketed as being "capable of penetrating 48 layers of soft body armor," having finishes "resistant to finger prints" and "capable of taking down an aircraft." These lax standards result in manufacturers marketing directly to criminals!

NRA OPPOSED Federal and State gun licensing and registration laws.

NRA OPPOSED national Safe Storage/Child Access Prevention requirements for firearms.

NRA OPPOSED a ban on armor piercing ammunition designed to penetrate the soft body armor worn by police.

NRA OPPOSED funding for personalized gun technology -- even though 17 percent of police officers are killed by criminals with their own service weapon. Additionally, many children's lives could be saved by simple and inexpensive safety devices.

NRA OPPOSED Federal and State permitting requirements for gun purchases including concealed handguns and military-style assault weapons.

NRA OPPOSED strict sentencing requirements for gun traffickers. The federal maximum sentence for illegal gun trafficking of 200 guns in one year is less than five years in jail.

NRA HELPED ENACT restrictions on law enforcement; the FBI must destroy gun purchase records after 24 hours, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is prohibited from regulating gun shows, flea markets and private gun sales. Police agencies are prohibited from sharing critical crime gun trace data -- even with other law enforcement agencies. Until recently, police (not criminals who use guns) could face 10 years in jail if they violated this law.

Instead of supporting common sense gun laws that require responsibility and accountability on the part of gun owners, dealers, manufacturers and law enforcement, the gun industry uses the NRA as a conduit for special interest political contributions that fund the campaigns of officials willing to provide ever expanding firearm markets to criminals. At the same time, the NRA has vilified law enforcement as enemies of gun rights and restricted their ability to investigate and prosecute criminal activity. Not only has the NRA exposed law enforcement to greater risk by arming criminals with weapons often more powerful than police issued weapons, they have made it impossible to protect the public from gun violence. It's no wonder over 150 Americans are shot and 83 die every day from firearms.

It's Open Season in the NRA's America. Criminals can legally buy guns without detection, vigilantes can kill people "at will" for no reason other than the color of one's skin, their religion or being in "the wrong neighborhood." The NRA's racist gun strategy provides a deadly recipe for more gun violence which disproportionately impacts urban and non-white communities and Congress doesn't care. The NRA and their indentured servants in Congress and State Legislatures are simply more concerned with selling guns and preserving their power than in public safety and social justice.

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