Opinion | It’s Time To Talk About the N.R.A. – by Nicholas Kristof – NYT

“The massacre of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, allegedly by a man with 21 guns registered to his name, was terrifyingly predictable. Every day in America, about 104 people die from guns, while in Japan it takes about a decade for that many to die from gun violence.

Equally predictable was the response. President Trump and members of Congress denounced the violence but show no signs of actually doing anything to stop it: So Americans will continue to die from guns at a rate of one every 15 minutes.

Why do we Americans kill each other, and ourselves, with guns at such rates? One answer as it relates to the Pittsburgh attack is a toxic brew of hate and bigotry, but the ubiquity of guns leverages hatred into murder. And let’s be blunt: One reason for our country’s paralysis on meaningful action on guns is the National Rifle Association. If we want to learn the lessons of this latest rampage, and try to prevent another one, then let’s understand that saving lives is not just about universal background checks and red flag laws, but also about defanging the N.R.A.”

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Nasty- Brutish and Trump – by Paul Krugman – NYT

“On Wednesday, after listening to the heart-rending stories of those who lost children and friends in the Parkland school shooting — while holding a cue card with empathetic-sounding phrases — Donald Trump proposed his answer: arming schoolteachers.

It says something about the state of our national discourse that this wasn’t even among the vilest, stupidest reactions to the atrocity. No, those honors go to the assertions by many conservative figures that bereaved students were being manipulated by sinister forces, or even that they were paid actors.Still, Trump’s horrible idea, taken straight from the N.R.A. playbook, was deeply revealing — and the revelation goes beyond issues of gun control. What’s going on in America right now isn’t just a culture war. It is, on the part of much of today’s right, a war on the very concept of community, of a society that uses the institution we call government to offer certain basic protections to all its members.

Before I get there, let me remind you of the obvious: We know very well how to limit gun violence, and arming civilians isn’t part of the answer.No other advanced nation experiences frequent massacres the way we do. Why? Because they impose background checks for prospective gun owners, limit the prevalence of guns in general and ban assault weapons that allow a killer to shoot dozens of people before he (it’s always a he) can be taken down. And yes, these regulations work.”

A Day of Raw Mourning and Rare Accountability on TV – The New York Times

“What makes teenagers amazing — or infuriating, if you’re in an argument with one — is they don’t know what they’re not supposed to be able to do.

They haven’t learned that being smart means being cynical about what you can accomplish. They haven’t been hard-wired with platitudes and euphemisms. They haven’t internalized a list of questions that are too naïve or impolite to ask.

At CNN’s town hall on gun violence Wednesday, “Students of Stoneman Douglas Demand Action,” this resulted in something you rarely see on TV: accountability. A week after 17 people died in a mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a group of angry, grieving constituents was questioning public officials as if they worked for the public.”

How the N.R.A. Keeps Federal Gun Regulators in Check – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — For years, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been overlooked in Washington. Overshadowed by more politically powerful law enforcement agencies like the F.B.I., the A.T.F. garnered headlines mostly for notorious episodes, including the deadly 1993 siege in Waco, Tex., and the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal more than a decade later.

Now, the A.T.F. is on the verge of a crisis. The agency, which has not grown significantly since its founding in 1973, is about to confront a staffing shortage and is set to lose its tobacco and alcohol enforcement authorities. President Trump has yet to nominate a director to oversee the agency, which has been without permanent leadership for eight of the past 12 years.

Amid the dearth of leadership and resources, the White House is pushing the A.T.F. to the forefront of its fight against violent crime. In response to the mass shooting at a Florida high school last week, Mr. Trump, who promised to fight violent criminal gangs and illegal guns — two of the A.T.F.’s key missions — announced that he would be relying on the bureau to regulate so-called bump stock accessories.But it is all but politically impossible for Mr. Trump, who counts the powerful gun lobby among his most ardent supporters, to strengthen the A.T.F. The National Rifle Association has long sought to hobble the agency in an effort to curb its ability to regulate guns, which the gun lobby has traditionally opposed.

“Most people in law enforcement know why A.T.F. can’t get a director,” said Michael Bouchard, a former agent and the president of the A.T.F. Association, an independent group that supports current and former bureau officials. “It’s not because of the people. It’s because of the politics.””

The Boys Are Not All Right – By MICHAEL IAN BLACK – NYT

“I used to have this one-liner: “If you want to emasculate a guy friend, when you’re at a restaurant, ask him everything that he’s going to order, and then when the waitress comes … order for him.” It’s funny because it shouldn’t be that easy to rob a man of his masculinity — but it is.

Last week, 17 people, most of them teenagers, were shot dead at a Florida school. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School now joins the ranks of Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Columbine and too many other sites of American carnage. What do these shootings have in common? Guns, yes. But also, boys. Girls aren’t pulling the triggers. It’s boys. It’s almost always boys.

America’s boys are broken. And it’s killing us.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval
Thank you Micael Ian Black for a thoughtful set of observations and questions. Socrates calls it baloney, and he misfires which is unusual for him. I grew painfully aware of this difficult topic, when Newsweek ran a cover story on it, just before the magazine sold itself and went digital only. In that historic cover story, Newsweek reported that boys were falling seriously behind girls in elementary and high school, college, and even graduate school. It gave a host of negative national statistics and possible causes. A major cause might be the reduction of recesss and non varsity sports programs in school programs. Others included the natural addiction of young men to computer gaming and especially first person shooter games. In the grossly male hostile public schools of Hamden CT, I saw my two sons slowly decline, while my daughter thrived. What the Newsweek cover story brought to life, was that what we were experiencing in one family, was a national trend. Boys are in trouble, and the country is barely aware of the problem.
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David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

Get Out of Facebook and Into the N.R.A.’s Face – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

Cameron Kasky, a 17-year-old at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who survived last week’s mass shooting, wrote a beautiful essay for CNN.com that declared: “At the end of the day, the students at my school felt one shared experience — our politicians abandoned us by failing to keep guns out of schools. But this time, my classmates and I are going to hold them to account. This time we are going to pressure them to take action. This time we are going to force them to spend more energy protecting human lives than unborn fetuses.”Cameron, God bless you for that sentiment. But just one piece of respectful advice: If your generation and mine want to get serious about a gun control crusade, we all need to get out of Facebook and into someone’s face: the N.R.A.’s.This fight can’t be won on Twitter or Instagram. They do get people into the streets. But social media have created a world of faux activism — “Hey, I tweeted about it” — that the bad guys take advantage of. The N.R.A. is not just in the chat rooms. It’s in the cloakrooms of Congress and state legislatures. And it’s there with bags of money and votes it uses to reward lawmakers who do its bidding and hurt those who don’t.I loved seeing the 100 students from your high school taking buses Tuesday to Florida’s capital to directly press lawmakers. That’s a great start. I hope every high school follows.But, ultimately, nothing will change unless young and old who oppose the N.R.A. run for office, vote, help someone vote, register someone to vote or help fund someone’s campaign — so we can threaten the same electoral pain as the National Rifle Association, which, according to PolitiFact, spent $203.2 million between 1998 and 2017 funding its candidates, defeating gun control advocates and lobbying. This is not about persuading people with better ideas. We tried that. It’s about generating raw electoral power and pain.

Guns — When Trump Can’t Even Tweet – by Gail Collins – NYT

“I don’t know if you heard, but this week a boy with a handgun killed two of his fellow students at a high school in Kentucky.“It is unbelievable that this would happen in a small, close-knit community like Marshall County,” said the governor, Matt Bevin.Actually, that part is completely believable. Given that another school shooting this week was in Italy, Tex., population under 2,000. And that two months ago, 25 people were shot to death while attending church in Sutherland Springs, Tex., population 362.

It’s about guns, not population density. And it is a huge story. But I know, people, you have been beating your heads against the wall about this issue forever, and a certain numbness creeps in. “You had the worst mass shooting in the country in Las Vegas, followed by a really horrific event in a church. People just get worn out,” said Mark Kelly, who co-founded a gun-safety organization with his wife, then-Representative Gabby Giffords, after she was shot in the head while meeting with her constituents.

Donald Trump — who yelled about “carnage” in big cities during his inauguration speech — has said not a word about the Kentucky shooting except to tweet his “thoughts and prayers.” (Even that, commenters noted, came nearly 24 hours after the prime minister of Canada sent his sympathies.) It is highly unlikely this lack of focus was due to weariness. “You’ve got to wonder,” Kelly said in a phone interview, whether the president would have had a more intense reaction if the news reports suggested “the shooter was of a different ethnicity.”

Thank you Gail. There are many excellent, heart feld comments in the NYT Comments section. Here is the top comment, which I recommended:

Linda

is a trusted commenter Oklahoma 15 hours ago

In the first 23 days of 2018 there were already 11 school shootings. There was also an anti-abortion march in Washington, DC, which Trump attended. Why not make buying guns as difficult as having an abortion? Each buyer should have to look at x-rays and MRIs of gunshot wounds and have to talk to someone whose loved one died of gunshot wounds. A doctor would have to explain gunshot wounds to the buyer and the buyer would have to wait 48 hours after talking to the doctor to buy a gun. There would only be one or two gun shops in each state making most gun buyers have to drive hundreds of miles for a purchase. And each buyer would have to walk through a screaming throng of people shouting and swearing at him or her.
Yes, 60,000 Americans a year die from gunshots. Make it as hard to buy a gun as it is to get an abortion.

 

The Congress Members Receiving the Most N.R.A. Funding – The New York Times

“Most Americans support stronger gun laws — laws that would reduce deaths. But Republicans in Congress stand in the way. They fear alienating their primary voters and the National Rifle Association.

Below are the top 10 career recipients of N.R.A. funding – through donations or spending to benefit the candidate – among both current House and Senate members, along with their statements about the Las Vegas massacre. These representatives have a lot to say about it. All the while, they refuse to do anything to avoid the next massacre.”

Jimmy Kimmel Seizes on Las Vegas Shooting to Champion Gun Laws in Emotional Monologue – The New York Times

“‘There Are a Lot of Things We Can Do’Jimmy Kimmel, a son of Las Vegas, delivered one of the most emotionally searing monologues in his show’s 14-year history on Monday as he honored those killed and injured in Sunday night’s shooting, and challenged President Trump and Congress to act against gun violence. Just as he did in his attacks on the Republican health care bills this year, Mr. Kimmel used plain, pointed language while acting as a social conscience as he called out politicians, the National Rifle Association and complacent citizens.

Choked up from the start, he ultimately broke into tears as he related the events and the aftermath of what was one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. “This morning, we have children without parents and fathers without sons, mothers without daughters. We lost two police officers. We lost a nurse from Tennessee. A special-ed teacher from a local school here in Manhattan Beach. It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to throw up or give up. It’s too much to even process — all these devastated families who now have to live with this pain forever because one person with a violent and insane voice in his head managed to stockpile a collection of high-powered rifles and use them to shoot people.”” — JIMMY KIMMEL

Video by Jimmy Kimmel Live!