DC at Night

DC at Night

Monday, December 17, 2012

Shame on the NRA

Today, as the tragedy-saddened Connecticut community of Newtown prepared for the somber task of burying its dead children and educators, about 200 sign-carrying gun-control advocates staged a protest rally in front of the National Rifle Association's lobbying offices near Capitol Hill, claiming NRA pressure on legislators makes it too easy to obtain firearms in the United States.

"Shame on the NRA, shame on the NRA, shame on the NRA," the vocal crowd shouted again and again. Many of the attendees waved signs, some handmade and some provided by CREDO mobile, which organized the noontime rally. "Teachers stand up to gunmen but Congress won't stand up to the NRA," one read. "Arms are for hugging, gun control now," read another. "Those 20 children didn't weigh much each, but collectively they MUST weigh heavily on the nation's CONSCIENCE," said a third. "Another Mother (or Grandfather or Teacher) AGAINST (a picture of an assault rifle)," proclaimed dozens of others.

The rally began at the Spirit of Justice Park, where attendees received brief instructions. "We will be chanting but this is a solemn occasion. Keep that in mind," one of the organizers said. Carrying their signs and continually calling out "Shame on the NRA," the group then marched by twos the 2 blocks to the NRA’s Federal Affairs Division, which is responsible for the organization’s lobbying efforts.

After arriving at the NRA site, the crowd was led in a long moment of silence to commemorate those killed when a lone gunman apparently shot his way into a Newtown elementary school last Friday and opened fire with an assault rifle, killing 20 students between the ages of 6 and 7, and 6 of those charged with educating them.

As dozens of TV and media photographers jostled each other and the protesters to find the most dramatic pictures, CREDO organizer Josh Nelson directed the protest, which was based on an actual questionnaire that the NRA sends to all Congressional candidates. "Today we say enough is enough," Nelson proclaimed.

All 6 NRA questions were handled in the same format. First Nelson would read a name and the age of the victim. He would then read an explanatory introduction and the NRA acceptable position. Then the crowd, using previously prepared and distributed guide sheets, would answer with a dissenting response, followed by "Shame on the NRA."

Here is an example of what it sounded like if you were there:
Nelson: In memory of (.......................), age 6.
Intro:  In 1994, Bill Clinton signed the Omnibus Crime Act, imposing a 10-year ban on the manufacture for sale to private citizens of nearly 200 models of semi-automatic firearms. The law also prohibited the manufacture for sale to private citizens of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition (that law expired in 2004 and hasn't been renewed).
The NRA-desired Response:  I agree with the NRA and would oppose legislation banning the manufacture, sale, or transfer of commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms or ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.
The crowd: I disagree with the NRA and would support legislation to ban the manufacture, sale or transfer of semi-automatic firearms and ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Shame on the NRA!

The rally was briefly interrupted when a lone dissenter began calling "If one teacher or one principal had been armed ..."  The crowd silenced him with vigorous shouts of "Shame, shame, shame, shame, shame."

Before concluding, organizers and crowd volunteers also read 5 citizens questions for the NRA. Those questions asked if the NRA:
  • agrees that it is time to stand down and allow Congress to pass common sense gun laws that will save lives
  • agrees that combat assault rifles should not be available for legal purchase
  • agrees with academic research and common sense position that we should reduce murders and killing from guns by restricting access and increasing regulation on some types of guns
  • agrees with the majority of Americans and even a majority of NRA members that we should enact common sense gun control measures to save lives
  • agrees that it is time to rethink (gun) policies to save lives
On this day, the questions went unanswered. There was no one at the NRA lobbying office. But it appears there will be a day of reckoning for the NRA on its positions. "We'll be back. We'll be back. We'll be back," the crowd chanted as it dispersed.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
We prepare to let our voices be heard
I am a vocal supporter of stricter gun control laws. I find it interesting that the NRA and its most influential backers have maintained complete silence since news of the horrid mass murders first broke Friday morning. The NRA has even shut down its Facebook page, posting a message: "To avoid uncivil debates breaking out on its Facebook Page wall in the wake of the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., the National Rifle Association has unpublished its Facebook Page." Pro-gun rights senators aren't talking either. David Gregory, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," noted on the show Sunday that pro-gun rights senators in the new Congress had declined to go on the show to discuss guns. "We reached out to all 31 pro-gun rights Senators in the new Congress to invite them on the program to share their views on this subject this morning," Gregory said. "We had no takers." Of course, silence can mean many things. I hope the silence means that the NRA and the senators are rethinking their positions and will join in the movement to bring sanity to our gun policies. That would truly be the best of what we call the American way.

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