There is simply no understanding the prevalence of gun violence in America -- as evidenced by the recent attempted assassination of a congresswoman during a mass shooting -- without discussing the nefarious role played by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Once an organisation primarily concerned with the education and training of sportsmen, in a coup that came to be known as the Cincinnati Revolt in 1977, hardliners took over the leadership and believed that any gun regulation would take us down a slippery slope to Khmer Rougism.
In the years since, unlike the US in the wake of the 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy -- or for that matter Australia after the Port Arthur Massacre -- the response to senseless gun violence has been to discuss everything from the rhetoric on our airwaves to the weather outside.
But any public conversations regarding restricting who has access to guns has been considered verboten (although, thankfully, this time some cracks are beginning to show).
This is largely because the NRA's duping its own members, which we'll discuss below, and coming to the realisation that the real money was in actually protecting the rights of gun manufacturers, which we'll discuss in Part II of this series.
If the NRA leadership is not radical, they certainly see the benefit in playing radicals on TV in order to enrich their financial benefactors who produce and sell the weaponry of death.
In the 1990s, in a climate of fear and paranoia that produced the Oklahoma City bombing, they were all too happy to refer to the government authority that tries to enforce gun laws, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), as "jack-booted thugs". This led former president George H.W. Bush to resign his membership.
They then decided to up the ante by accusing former president Bill Clinton of murder and saying he "had blood on his hands" -- all for the crime of supporting background checks at gun shows -- which is among the many legislative proposals to reduce gun violence that they have repeatedly blocked.
Others include a ban on high-capacity magazines, banning sales to those on terrorist watch lists, and fully funding the aforementioned ATF (think about the latter when they say they want to "strengthen existing gun laws" after each new tragedy).
In fact, just a few days after the mass shooting in Tucson, it was reported by Ryan Reilly from TPMMuckraker that a "jihadist" in America who was... "a moderator and contributor on Islamic extremist web forums, posted songs praising suicide bombers, discussed his jihad fantasies in the open..." was able to get an AK-47, no questions asked.
Emerson Begolly, the "jihadist" in question, responded when queried about this with laughter and facetiously exclaimed that "someone at the FBI showed up to work drunk." Perhaps, but if they were, it was only because the NRA forced them to do keg stands.