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What Oligarch Do YOU Serve ????
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TOPIC: What Oligarch Do YOU Serve ????
#22019
What Oligarch Do YOU Serve ???? 1 Year, 9 Months ago Karma: 221
What Oligarch Do YOU Serve ????

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Earl

The NRA vs. America


By Tim Dickinson
January 31, 2013 10:00 AM ET

Eleven days after the massacre, Wayne LaPierre – a lifelong political operative who had steadied the National Rifle Association through many crises – stood before an American flag and soberly addressed the nation about firearms and student safety: "We believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America's schools, period," LaPierre said, carving out a "rare exception" for professional law enforcement. LaPierre even proposed making the mere mention of the word "guns" in schools a crime: "Such behavior in our schools should be prosecuted just as certainly as such behavior in our airports is prosecuted," LaPierre said.

This speech wasn't delivered in an alternate universe. The date was May 1st, 1999, at the NRA's national convention in Denver. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's rampage at Columbine High School in nearby Littleton, Colorado, had just killed 13 students and teachers, shocking the conscience of the nation.

Wayne vs. Wayne: When the NRA Chief Endorsed Gun Control in Schools

The disconnect between the NRA chief's conciliatory address on that day 14 years ago and his combative press conference in the aftermath of the slaughter of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Connecticut, could hardly be more jarring. In his now-infamous December 21st tirade, LaPierre ripped the gun-free zones he once championed as an invitation to the "monsters and predators of this world," advertising to "every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk."

LaPierre then offered what he called a "proven" solution to school gun violence – one that would open a lucrative new market for the gun industry while tidily expanding the power of the NRA itself. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre insisted, before proposing that armed, NRA-trained vigilantes should patrol each of the nation's nearly 100,000 public schools.

The shift in LaPierre's rhetoric underscores a radical transformation within the NRA. Billing itself as the nation's "oldest civil rights organization," the NRA still claims to represent the interests of marksmen, hunters and responsible gun owners. But over the past decade and a half, the NRA has morphed into a front group for the firearms industry, whose profits are increasingly dependent on the sale of military-bred weapons like the assault rifles used in the massacres at Newtown and Aurora, Colorado. "When I was at the NRA, we said very specifically, 'We do not represent the fi rearm industry,'" says Richard Feldman, a longtime gun lobbyist who left the NRA in 1991. "We represent gun owners. End of story." But in the association's more recent history, he says, "They have really gone after the gun industry."

Today's NRA stands astride some of the ugliest currents of our politics, combining the "astroturf" activism of the Tea Party, the unlimited and undisclosed "dark money" of groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, and the sham legislating conducted on behalf of the industry through groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council. "This is not your father's NRA," says Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, a top gun-industry watchdog. Feldman is more succinct, calling his former employer a "cynical, mercenary political cult."

The NRA's alignment with an $11.7 billion industry has fed tens of millions of dollars into the association's coffers, helping it string together victories that would have seemed fantastic just 15 years ago. The NRA has hogtied federal regulators, censored government data about gun crime and blocked renewal of the ban on assault weaponry and high-capacity magazines, which expired in 2004. The NRA secured its "number-one legislative priority" in 2005, a law blocking liability lawsuits that once threatened to bankrupt gunmakers and expose the industry's darkest business practices. Across the country, the NRA has opened new markets for firearms dealers by pushing for state laws granting citizens the right to carry hidden weapons in public and to allow those who kill in the name of self-defense to get off scot-free.

Gabby Giffords Speaks on Gun Control: 'The Time Is Now'

The NRA's unbending opposition to better gun-control measures does not actually reflect the views of the nation's gun owners or, for that matter, its claimed 4 million members. A May 2012 poll conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz revealed surprising moderation on behalf of NRA members: Three out of four believed that background checks should be completed before every gun purchase. Nearly two-thirds supported a requirement that gun owners alert police when their firearms are lost or stolen. "Their members are much more rational than the management of the NRA," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, tells Rolling Stone. "They're out of touch."

That's by design. Today's NRA is a completely top-down organization. It has been led since 1991 by LaPierre, its chief executive, who serves at the pleasure of a 76-member board that is all but self-perpetuating. Only one-third of the board's membership is up for re-election in any given year. Voting is limited to the NRA's honored "lifetime" members and to dues-payers with at least five consecutive years of being in good standing. Write-in candidates occasionally pepper the ballot, but in practice, the tiny slice of eligible members who bother to vote rubber-stamp a slate of candidates dictated by the NRA's 10-member nominating committee – one of whose members is George Kollitides II, CEO of Freedom Group, which manufactures the Bushmaster semiautomatic that Adam Lanza used to slaughter children in Newtown.

The NRA's board is stocked with industry brass. Pete Brownell, president of Brownells – an Internet arms superstore that features "ultrahigh-capacity magazines" – campaigned for his seat touting the importance for the NRA to have "directors who intimately understand and work in leadership positions within the firearms industry." Another board seat belongs to Ronnie Barrett, CEO of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, whose company produces .50-caliber sniper rifles capable of piercing armor from nearly a mile away. Barrett's firm also sells scope-mounted ballistics computers that enable clueless civilians to hit targets like they were special-forces snipers. The ammunitions side of the industry finds a voice in board member Stephen Hornady, whose company peddles armor-piercing bullets and trades on the slogan "Accurate. Deadly. Dependable."

These NRA directors are representative of a firearms sector that knows lethality sells. "The industry has changed," says Tom Diaz, former Democratic counsel to the House subcommittee on crime, a longtime gun-violence policy analyst and author of a forthcoming book on the industry, The Last Gun. "In terms of what sells and what is marketed most successfully, we're now talking about guns that are derived directly from military design."

Of the top 15 gun manufacturers, 11 now manufacture assault weapons, many of them variants of the AR-15 – derived from a military rifle designed to kill enemy soldiers at close-to-medium range with little marksmanship. The industry loves these "modern sporting rifles" because they can be tricked out with expensive scopes, loaders, lights and lasers. "Most of the money is in accessories," says Feldman.

As one gun rep recently boasted to an industry publication: "The AR platform is like Legos for grown men." And a 2012 report from Bushmaster's parent company boasted that the industry's embrace of these guns has led to "increased long-term growth in the long-gun market while attracting a younger generation of shooters." The campaign certainly seems to be working. Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster. Twenty-five-year-old James Holmes, the Aurora shooter, was in many ways the dream customer of the surging industry. He bought an AR-15 .233-caliberSmith & Wesson assault rifle – a category the company's CEO bragged was "extremely hot" – tricked it out with a 100-round ultrahigh-capacity magazine and then purchased thousands of rounds from BulkAmmo.com, spending nearly $15,000 on his greater arsenal.

The changes in the industry are underscored by dispatches from industry websites and publications, like this one from Shooting Wire, in which the NRA is an advertiser: "The net of all the numbers is that if you're a company with a strong line of high-capacity pistols and AR-style rifles, you're doing land-office business. If you're heavily dependent on hunting, you are hurting."

Conservatives Have their Worst Week Ever

The NRA insists in its publications that it is "not a trade organization" and that it is "not affiliated with any firearm or ammunition manufacturers or with any businesses that deal in guns and ammunition." That is a lie. NRA's corporate patrons include 22 firearms manufacturers, 12 of which are makers of assault weapons with household names like Beretta and Ruger, according to a 2011 analysis by the Violence Policy Center. The report, drawn from the NRA's own disclosures, also identified gifts from dozens of firms that profit from high-capacity magazines, including Browning and Remington. Donors from the industry and other dark reaches of the corporate world – including Xe, the new name of the mercenary group Blackwater – had funneled up to $52 million to the NRA in recent years.

More disturbing, the NRA receives funds directly from the sales of arms and ammunition. The "Round-Up" program, launched by arms retailer Midway USA, encourages customers to increase their purchases to the nearest dollar and sends the extra coin to the association. Midway customers alone have contributed nearly $8 million in this way to support NRA's lobbying division, the Institute for Legislative Action.

In 2011, Ruger set out to be the first gun company to "build and ship a million guns in one year." So it ginned up a promotion that would give a dollar to the NRA for every weapon sold between the 2011 and 2012 NRA annual meetings. The company broke its own sales goal, sending $1,254,000 to the NRA-ILA. Glock – whose pistols have been used in at least six mass murders since 1991, including the Virginia Tech and Gabby Giffords shootings – has been shipping an offer for discounted NRA memberships with its handguns. In 2007, the NRA thanked Glock for helping it recruit 10,000 new members.

Top corporate patrons are treated like royalty. Those whose giving to the NRA reaches $1 million or more are inaugurated into an elite NRA society called the "Golden Ring of Freedom" in a ceremony where they're presented with a silk-lined golden blazer with a hand-embroidered crest. Industry honchos seen in "the million-dollar jacket" include the heads of Ruger, Beretta, Midway and Cabela's, an outfitter that sells 12 models of semiautomatic rifles.

Much like elite funders of a major political party, these Golden Ringers enjoy top access to decision-makers at the NRA. Their interests, not the interest of the $35-a-year member, rule the roost. "They've got this base of true believers that they mail their magazines out to," says policy analyst Diaz. "But the NRA is really about serving this elite."

In more than three decades of service to the NRA, Wayne LaPierre has done more than any other man alive to make America safe for crazed gunmen to build warlike arsenals and unleash terror on innocents at movie theaters and elementary schools. In the 1980s, he helped craft legislation to roll back gun control passed in the wake of the Kennedy and King assassinations. And since the late 1990s, twice he has destroyed political deals that might have made it hugely difficult for accused killers like Holmes and Lanza to get their hands on their weapons.

A predecessor once characterized the NRA as being "one of the world's great religions," and 64-year-old LaPierre is a strange fit to be its pope. LaPierre did not come from gun culture. He wasn't a hunter, a marksman, a military man or a Second Amendment activist. "He's not a true believer," says NRA biographer Osha Gray Davidson. "He's the first NRA chief you can say that about."

According to NRA legend, LaPierre is actually a menace with a gun. NRA's PR team once thought it would be sexy to film LaPierre at a firing range. "It was a nightmare," an NRA staffer told Davidson. LaPierre was aiming downrange for the camera when an engineer called for a sound check. To answer the man, LaPierre swung around, but he failed to lower his rifle, aiming it directly at the engineer – before someone took the gun away from LaPierre. The incident, terrifying at the time, became a dark joke at NRA headquarters. Staffers behind on their projects were threatened that they'd have to "go hunting with Wayne." (The NRA's press office did not reply to Rolling Stone inquiries.)

Between 1978, when LaPierre was hired as a lobbyist, and 1991, when he took over as CEO, the NRA had been on a historic roll. In those early days, LaPierre served at the knee of a revolutionary NRA executive named Harlon Carter, who transformed an old-time shooters club into a political powerhouse – an "NRA so strong," Carter boasted, "that no politician in America mindful of his political career would want to challenge [our] goals." The NRA started grading politicians on guns – a process Bob Dole kvetched was "a litmus test every five minutes" – rewarding allies with campaign cash and subjecting foes to the backlash of millions of rabid, single-issue gun-owning voters. In 1980, the NRA made its first-ever presidential endorsement with Ronald Reagan, and by 1986 had the Gipper's signature on legislation, overseen by LaPierre, that would usher in a new era of unregulated gun shows.

By the late 1990s, however, the once mighty NRA was reeling on LaPierre's watch: It had suffered stinging legislative defeats – the passage of the Brady Bill in 1993 and the Assault Weapons Ban a year later. Despite being credited by President Clinton for the GOP takeover in the House in 1994, the association was riven by factionalism and money troubles that had many writing the association's obituary.

Instead, LaPierre orchestrated a stunning turnaround, rebuilding the NRA's power, this time as the voice of the industry. In so doing, he destroyed a historic gun-control effort.

Cities around the country, emboldened by the success of the legal action that had humbled Big Tobacco, had begun suing gun manufacturers, claiming that the industry was liable for the social costs of gun violence. These suits argued that firearms manufacturers had negligently marketed guns to criminals and profited from illicit gun sales by turning a blind eye to their distribution networks. The Clinton White House, in an initiative driven by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, announced its own class-action, suit over gun violence in the nation's housing projects.

"The liability fight was an existential threat to the firearms industry," says Feldman. "They thought that if those lawsuits continued, let alone were successful, it would drain the industry." In the industry's moment of peril, LaPierre saw an opportunity to expand the NRA's power: The NRA would get out in front of gunmakers and, through its membership, lead their fight. Charlton Heston, then NRA's president, brought a stark message to the industry's biggest trade show in 1999: "For a century, we have thrived independently," Heston said. "But now your fight has become our fight." Under LaPierre, the NRA went to work at the state level, securing bills that would ban localities from suing gun manufacturers. It also began to draw up a national campaign to get Congress to immunize gun manufacturers from liability for their deadly products.

Smith & Wesson, at the time America's biggest handgun manufacturer, was hesitant to bank on the NRA's legislative moonshot, deciding that the best way to limit the damage would be to negotiate a settlement with Cuomo. "We have to save the business," said CEO Ed Schultz." So we're talking, instead of hiding our head in the sand like the National Rifle Association."

In exchange for immunity from product liability lawsuits, Smith & Wesson agreed to make safer guns and to clean up distribution networks. The measures included changes to the guns themselves, such as internal locks, triggers that couldn't be operated by kids and making new guns incompatible with old, high-capacity magazines whose manufacture was now illegal thanks to the Assault Weapons Ban. Smith & Wesson also promised to ship only to dealers who ran background checks at every sale, including at gun shows, and who refused to sell grandfathered assault rifles. With Smith & Wesson on board, Cuomo was confident that other manufacturers would fall in line.

But LaPierre would tolerate no defections. Determined to kill off any comprehensive gun-control agreement, he decided to hurt Smith & Wesson like the NRA had punished so many wayward politicians, by riling up the membership and organizing a consumer boycott that left the company reeling. Cuomo's negotiations with the industry soon collapsed.

So too did the effort to pass new gun restrictions in the aftermath of Columbine, underscoring the NRA's resurgent power. Three guns used in the Columbine massacre had been picked up at a gun show, where, thanks to a loophole in the Brady Bill, the purchases weren't subject to background checks. The Senate quickly passed an amendment to close the gun-show loophole, with Al Gore casting the decisive vote. But the NRA made its stand in the House. A month later, when the amendment came up for a vote, it got stomped, 193 to 235. Democrats, mindful of the punishment of 1994, contributed 49 nay votes.

Three more pages to go-
www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-n...rica-20130131?page=3

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#22021
Re: What Oligarch Do YOU Serve ???? 1 Year, 9 Months ago Karma: 266
Earl I simply couldn't get myself to read the last 3 pages of this excellent article -- as by the time I got to the end of the excerpt you posted here I was already thoroughly disgusted, and the picture was pretty clear.

Let's start with the fact that there is no possible "legitimate use" for 100-round clips; or anything remotely approaching such insanity. Their only, POSSIBLE use is for killing people. "Hunters" don't use semi-automatic weapons. So the legal case for liability against gun-manufacturers who produce these over-kill products is virtually open-and-shut.

Thus the MAJOR push by this Shill organization to make gun-manufacturers immune from liability for RECKLESSLY making products with no possible, legitimate use is just as EVIL as manufacturing these products. While this ultra-extreme agenda itself is proof of the NRA's illegitimacy; I found it very interesting to read that it wasn't even really "representative" of its own membership.

...and yes Earl, the title to your post is to the point. The pictures presented here again and again are remarkably similar: it's these CORPORATE "LOBBIES" which are the invincible juggernauts; and government and/or the so-called "justice" system are the over-matched "underdogs".

But there will never be the "political will" to stand up to the Oligarchs while most of the Sheep choose to serve them -- whether aware of it or not.
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#22024
Re: What Oligarch Do YOU Serve ???? 1 Year, 9 Months ago Karma: 221
Jeff,

I love life's little "ironies". As a fan of the "Planet of the Apes" films, I couldn't leave this out (from page 3)-

Thank You
Earl

Like every other element of today's modern conservative machinery, the NRA works in the background to expand corporate power – while pretending in public to advance the interests of the little guy. The NRA continues to put forward its members as the face of the organization. But dues from members bring in less than half of the association's yearly expenses, which include spending heavily on a sophisticated telemarketing campaign to sustain its membership.

To stay afloat, the NRA relies on tens of millions in grants and gifts – increasingly linked to the gun industry. Such funds totaled $71 million in 2010 and have been growing twice as fast as membership dues have. And the NRA, looking to bring in even bigger bucks, is now fishing for donors with Koch-size wallets. On its website, the NRA lists a donor tier for those who give $25 million or above, which it calls the "Charlton Heston Society."

Read more: www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-n...130131#ixzz2KmnDTGL8
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#22028
Re: What Oligarch Do YOU Serve ???? 1 Year, 9 Months ago Karma: 266
Damn you Earl! You dragged me back into that Rolling Stone article.



I was looking for the excerpt about the Charleton Heston Society, but found this instead:

It wasn't only restrictions on the sale of military-grade weaponry that the NRA fought. It also fought to keep Americans in the dark about the relative dangers of such guns. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms compiles detailed records about what firearms are used in what types of crime, and even published a list of the top 10 crime guns. To block the release of that data, Todd Tiahrt, a GOP congressman from Kansas and an NRA ally, tacked a rider onto a 2003 appropriations bill that forbids ATF from spending any money to share the data it collects with the public – or even with Congress. "If you wanted to know how many Bushmasters have been used in what kinds of crime for the last five years, that information is in ATF's files," says Diaz. "But it can't be released because of the Tiahrt Amendment."


Here's a question for any gun-lovers out there with at least a tiny bit of integrity: if you are "right", why do you need to pass laws to hide the TRUTH from people???

If the gun-makers aren't MALEVOLENT cancers; why did they have to pass laws to IMMUNIZE these Death Merchants from the same liability laws all other corporations must deal with?
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#22030
Re: What Oligarch Do YOU Serve ???? 1 Year, 9 Months ago Karma: 266
...and then there's this little nugget.

In the Corrupt States of America; "unlimited" (corporate) campaign contributions are now legal. Buying the government the Rich desire is now no longer even concealed. BUT when contributing to "political campaigns" the identities of the donors (and size of the donations) must at least be publicly disclosed.

The NRA isn't even required to disclose who/what provides it with its $10's of millions to fund its activities each year. Why? Because -- only in "America" -- the NRA is classified as a "social welfare" organization.



The entity which wants to see the MOST deadly toys in the hands of Americans, and (as a result) the MOST dead Americans is considered a "social welfare" organization. This would be like classifying Adolph Hitler as a "humanitarian"...



Perhaps these NRA-boosters are also big shareholders in coffin-making companies???




...The NRA gets to play like a Super PAC. But unlike groups that sprang up to support Mitt Romney (Restore Our Future) or Barack Obama (Priorities USA), the NRA does not have to disclose the names or contributions of its donors.

That's because the rifle association is incorporated under the same provision of the tax code that shelters Karl Rove's "dark money" operation, Crossroads GPS. "The NRA is a 501(c)(4) organization," it advertises to potential donors, "which enables it to be involved in political processes including lobbying and political campaign activities." Such groups must be primarily engaged in "social welfare" activities.


www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-n...rica-20130131?page=4
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#22726
The Gun Industry's Deadly Addiction 1 Year, 8 Months ago Karma: 221

The Gun Industry's Deadly Addiction


By Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/...rys-deadly-addiction

Firearms manufacturers are betting their future on the military-style weapons used in Newtown and Aurora


For gunmakers, the political fight over assault rifles and high-capacity pistols is about more than just profits - it's about the militarization of the marketplace and represents a desperate bid by gunmakers to prop up a decaying business. The once-dependable market for traditional hunting guns has fallen off a cliff. To adapt, the firearms industry has embraced a business strategy that requires it to place the weapons of war favored by deranged killers like Adam Lanza and Jared Loughner into the homes and holsters of as many Americans as possible. "They're not selling your dad's hunting rifle or shotgun," says Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, a top industry watchdog. "They're selling military-bred weaponry."

As recently as 2008, shotguns, rifles and other traditional hunting weapons made up half of all new civilian gun sales in America, according to SEC documents - a brisk billion-dollar business. Today, hunting guns account for less than a quarter of the market, and the hunting industry is forecasting a 24 percent drop in revenue by 2025. Gunmakers are on the wrong side of the same demographic curves that haunt the modern Republican Party. Its customer base is too old, too white, too male and too Southern. According to Gallup, 61 percent of white males in the South own guns today. Nationwide, just 18 percent of Latinos do. "The white males are aging and dying off," says Sugarmann. Flooding the market with battle-ready guns, he says, "is an effort to find one new, shiny thing to sell them."

For the moment, that strategy is paying handsome dividends. Handgun sales have jumped 70 percent since 2008, racking up an estimated $1.5 billion in sales last year. Powerful pistols - sold under brands like Beretta, Glock and Ruger - have replaced traditional hunting guns as the industry's cash cow. Revenue from assault rifles is growing at an even faster clip - having doubled in the past five years, to $489 million. Gaudy profit margins have become the norm: Top gunmakers enjoy gross profits of 30 percent or more. Ammunition manufacturers, too, boast of being fat and happy. And it's no wonder: AR-15 enthusiasts brag they can fire up to 400 rounds in 60 seconds. Paying roughly 50 cents a bullet, such shooters are blowing through $200 worth of ammo in a hot minute.

Much of the industry's recent success is linked to politics - in particular, to the gun-buying public's anxiety about the first black man in the White House. The phenomenon is reflected in Smith & Wesson's SEC filings, which trumpeted "strong consumer demand for our firearm products following a new administration taking office in Washington, D.C., in 2009." Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas has joked that Barack Obama is "his own stimulus plan for the gun industry."

Trade magazines used to fret that the "Barack Boom" would be a short-term spike in revenues. Instead, the Obama presidency appears to have catalyzed durable growth. "Everyone was concerned that consumers were hoarding, hoarding and hoarding," Steve Hornady, president of ammunition-maker Hornady Manufacturing, said recently. "Well, if they've been hoarding, they've been hoarding for the last four years, because...business has never been better for all of us." The FBI background checks that the industry looks to as a proxy for gun sales have been rising year over year for more than 30 months. And the president's re-election appears to be driving a new boom even bigger than the first. Background checks for November 2012 jumped by 400,000 - surpassing 2 million for the first time.

Perversely, the Newtown massacre has only added to the wave of panic buying - as consumers stockpile weapons that could be outlawed. The FBI performed an astonishing 2.78 million checks in December. January dipped to 2.5 million, but that may only be because industry can't keep up with demand. "Currently we are over 1 year back ordered on rifles," reads an online notice posted by AR-15 maker Stag Arms. "We are not taking orders at this time."

This sales boom papers over a perilous trajectory for the industry. A generation ago, more than half of American households owned a gun. Today it's barely one in three. Millennials, in particular, do not share their parents' love of firearms: Less than 20 percent of Americans born after 1980 report having a gun in the home. "For the industry, the problem is 'Who is going to buy the guns?'" says Sugarmann. "To borrow the language of the tobacco industry," he says, "they need to find 'replacement shooters.'"

To survive, much less thrive, gunmakers are feverishly seeking to break into unconventional demographics; to con existing gun owners into expanding their arsenals; and to capitalize on the demand of black markets. You can learn a lot about an industry by looking at whom they target for profit.

1. Hook the Kids

To goose future growth, the gun industry is aggressively marketing guns to children as young as the first-graders slaughtered in Newtown. "By the time kids are in fifth grade, or even before, they're already being pulled away by the allure of video games, organized sports or other activities," said Bud Pidgeon, president of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, which along with the National Rifle Association and three other prominent gun groups oversees Families Afield. In less than a decade, Families Afield has pushed more than 30 states to jettison regulations that protect kids from guns - removing age restrictions on hunting licenses or no longer requiring that children take a gun-safety course before going hunting with Dad.

The seduction of youth goes far beyond hunting. Online ammo superstore MidwayUSA is particularly aggressive in promoting youth shooting, sponsoring events like National Take Your Daughter to the Range Day, for "girls six and up." A photo posted on the event's website under the heading "Shoot Like a Girl" shows a dad helping his daughter, perhaps eight years old, aim an AR-15 with a collapsible stock and a monster clip.

Top industry players also support a magazine called Junior Shooters - gun porn for children as young as eight; a recent edition featured a photo of a Rock River LAR-15 assault rifle under the headline awesome! The magazine entices advertisers with the promise of reaching "the next generation of shooters and voters!" And many of its articles are written "for kids, by kids" like the piece by "Winchester" Reed Harrison titled "I Love Cowboy Action Shooting" - a sport in which shooters pretend to be Wyatt Earp by firing real-life rifles, pistols and shotguns. The nine-year-old columnist writes fondly of learning to shoot at age four, adding, "I love my guns because they are cool in every way."

2. Seduce the Ladies


Gunmakers are acutely concerned about the gender gap. Just 15 percent of women nationwide personally own a gun - a third of male gun ownership. For the industry, women are seen not only as lucrative customers in their own right, but also as gatekeepers to the coveted child market. The hunting industry lives by the motto "If you teach a man to hunt, he goes hunting. If you teach a woman to hunt, the entire family goes hunting."

To target urban and suburban women, gunmakers have adopted a two-pronged marketing strategy. One: Feminizing the weapons by dressing them up in hot pink. Two: Marketing powerful guns to women as the only surefire protection against sexual and violent predators. Shooting Industry Magazine publishes a column called "Arms and the Woman," which advises that "every gun store should have at least one pink gun on display." This is a crowded field: Sig Sauer offers a ladies' version of its conceal-carry "Mosquito" pistol with a "pink-coated polymer frame" that it calls "the ideal choice for hours of shooting fun." In a similar vein, GunGoddess.com sells a kit to trick out an assault weapon with a pink hand guard, pistol grip and butt stock - transforming an AR-15 into something that looks like it belongs at a Hello Kitty convention. (The same retailer also offers a wide array of conceal-carry couture, from purses with hidden gun compartments to the Flashbang "bra holster.")

When it's not making guns cuter for women, the industry is preying on their fears. Laura Browder, author of Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America, has described the archetypal gun ad: "The police are nowhere to be found; it is up to a woman alone to ward off the sexually threatening 'predators' of the city." Only with a gun, the industry tells women, can they defend themselves "against anonymous violence, a task that the government is clearly not up to." Gunmaker FN Herstal designed its Five-seveN pistol to fire rounds that can pierce body armor on the battlefield. Back in 2000, a leading gun magazine deemed it "obvious" that "neither the gun nor the ammunition will ever be sold to civilians." Today, it's marketed as a "Ladies' Home Companion."

To understand the face of the modern women's gun market, look no further than Adam Lanza's mother, Nancy, says Tom Diaz, author of a new book about the industry, The Last Gun. Nancy was an upscale suburban mom and lifelong gun enthusiast who reportedly lived in fear of economic and social collapse. To protect herself from the faceless evil that might break into her home, she didn't just buy a single gun - she compiled an arsenal worth thousands of dollars and trained with her son at local shooting ranges. "She was the perfect customer," says Diaz, "the perfect manifestation of how they want to sell guns."

3. Turn Shooting Ranges into Live-Action Video Games


For a younger generation raised on graphic video games, shooting at paper targets or "plinking" bottles and tin cans doesn't carry much appeal. So the industry has come up with some new ways to make shooting more like playtime. A firm called Zombie Industries manufactures life-size mannequins for target practice. Some models "bleed" fluorescent goo when shot. Others respond to gunfire in a more lifelike fashion, opening up gaping chest wounds and "bursting into little pieces of blood-soaked zombie matter when you shoot them." The manufacturer offers a wide line of "zombie" targets, including "the Terrorist" - an undead bin Laden - and, more troubling, a blood-soaked, buxom woman-target called "The Ex."

Firing ranges now offer zombie-themed hunts. "Shooters must battle their way through a Zombie Assault Course to save us all from these undead people eaters," advertises one Florida range. The industry itself is also cashing in on the craze, selling zombie-branded accessories, including sights that use a biohazard hologram instead of cross hairs for aim. Ammunitions giant Hornady has even rebranded its Critical Defense line of bullets as Zombie Max. "This is an incredible marketing strategy," one dealer told Shooting Industry. "If you set Hornady Critical Defense next to Zombie Max ammunition, a young customer is going to grab the Zombie ammo. The old-timers don't care much for it, but the younger shooters love it."

Zombie shooting is part of a broader trend described in the trade magazine: "Gun dealers are rebranding themselves and marketing their businesses as part of the entertainment industry." Nowhere is this more in evidence than Las Vegas. Tourists at the Range 702 can plunk down on the "Prohibition" package - which promises a "great experience of the mob days," including shooting a tommy gun - or the "Black Ops" package, which was "created for all you Call of Duty fans" and offers "high adrenaline guns," including a military SAW machine gun, to "bring out the inner Special Ops in you!"

4. Prep the Preppers


If zombie hunters train for apocalyptic scenarios as entertainment, there's another dedicated breed of buyer who is stockpiling weapons out of true fear of social collapse driven by dark forces outside of their control - whether it's a superstorm, rampant inflation or an out-of-control government. Through the end of 2012, Stag Arms sold an "Executive Survivors Kit" - a wheeled briefcase containing an AR-15, two high-capacity magazines, 60 rounds of ammo, a first-aid kit and even a military field ration - all for the Mayan-apocalypse-worthy price of $2,012.

If some in the gun industry just want to profiteer from the fear of preppers, a few gun figures themselves have joined this subculture. Take James Yeager, the CEO of Tactical Response, a Tennessee company dedicated to "providing the highest-end firearms and tactical training" to civilians who believe they require battlefield readiness.

As the gun-control debate heated up in Washington this winter, Yeager took to YouTube with a call to arms about the coming "civil war." He told his fellow "patriots" to "load your damn mags, make sure your rifle's clean, pack a backpack with some food in it and get ready to fight." Yeager ended his rant with a call to violence. "I'm not letting my country be ruled by a dictator. I'm not letting anybody take my guns! If it goes one inch further, I'm going to start killing people."

5. Supply Cartels and Criminals

The gun industry's dirtiest - and most open - secret is that it is profiting from the sale of guns that are illegally trafficked into Mexico to arm the drug cartels responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians. "Nobody has a clue how big that market is," says Diaz. "It's like drugs in reverse."

"Military-style weapons are arming Mexico's brutal drug trafficking organizations at an alarming rate," Dianne Feinstein wrote in a 2011 letter to her Senate colleagues. Nearly 90 percent of weapons seized in Mexico are trafficked from the U.S. "Many of these firearms came from gun shops and gun shows in Southwest border states," the GAO reported, decrying the "increasingly lethal weapons," specifically "high-caliber and high-powered" guns such as "AR-15-type semiautomatic rifles, which fire ammunition that can pierce armor often used by Mexican police." For the industry itself, the violent deaths of tens of thousands of Mexicans are of no greater concern than the mock executions of zombie dummies. In 2005, Congress granted gunmakers and gun dealers blanket immunity from civil damages resulting from the misuse of their products. The National Shooting Sports Federation has even gone to court attempting to block modest ATF efforts to track sales of assault rifles. In January 2012, a federal judge dismissed the industry's complaint - leading the NRA to grumble that this was just "more proof that the Obama administration is intent on blaming gun owners and the Second Amendment for a problem that is rooted in Mexico."

The industry is also fueling violence closer to home. Gunmakers reap money from a shadowy network of gun dealers that supply weapons to criminals and gangs that terrorize our neighborhoods and kill cops. An ATF report found that nearly 58 percent of crime guns traced in 1998 had been sold by just 1.2 percent of gun dealers. Thanks to the NRA and Congress, ATF is now prohibited from publishing such data.

With gun-control legislation facing an uncertain path in Washington, advocates determined to end the industry's bloodiest practices are pursuing reform through the free market.

Following the Newtown massacre, investor activism by the California teacher's pension fund spurred the private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management to exit the gun business. Cerberus has a broad ownership stake in the Freedom Group, the parent company of Bushmaster. "We have determined to immediately engage in a formal process to sell our investment in Freedom Group," Cerberus said in a statement just days after the killings.

Divestment from the gun industry is gaining momentum: Following Cerberus' lead, the hedge fund Tiger Global Management sold off the estimated 800,000 shares it owned in gunmaker Ruger and has vowed to steer clear of the industry. In February, California Public Employees' Retirement System voted to sell off $5 million in gun equities. Pension funds from the nation's biggest cities are joining the rush to exit the market: New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago have each committed to withdraw investments from gunmakers who profit from assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

From Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling in chits from the world of finance, pressuring the CEOs of Bank of America and TD Bank - which extend credit to gunmakers - to use financial leverage to demand companies like Smith & Wesson and Ruger back an assault-weapons ban and universal background checks. Emanuel is also ratcheting up pressure on mutual funds like Vanguard and BlackRock to divest from gunmakers who oppose gun control in an effort to stop "military-style guns and magazines from ending up on the street and putting families, children and police officers at risk."

Purchases by police departments may provide a creative form of leverage. Minneapolis' mayor, R.T. Rybak, announced in January that he's in talks with mayors of about 60 cities to withhold police firearm and ammunition purchases from gunmakers that lobby against gun control. "We all ought to have a conversation as taxpayers," he said, "about whether our dollars should be used for people who are not working to reduce gun violence."

But even divestment is easier said than done. As of February, Cerberus was still scrambling to find a buyer for the Freedom Group - a horizontally integrated business that includes makers of handguns, hunting guns, assault rifles and even ammunition. Its sales volume is nearly double that of its top publicly traded competitors, and that's a problem. "There's not some 800-pound gorilla to buy it all," a top analyst told The Wall Street Journal.

If history is any guide, even the most restrictive political outcome now being considered in Washington could leave the industry laughing all the way to the bank. The assault-weapons ban now being proposed in the Senate repeats the cardinal sin of the 1994 ban - namely, it grandfathers all assault weapons "lawfully possessed" on the date of passage.

Under the 1994 ban, lawful possession included the inventories of dealers and manufacturers. By the time the law had worked its way through the legislative process, some had stockpiled up to 10 years' worth of supplies and magazines that were destined to become, in effect, legal contraband, which could then be sold at two and three times the previous price. Richard Feldman, a top industry lobbyist at the time, recalls his advice to manufacturers in the early 1990s - counsel that today's gunmakers are surely heeding: "Make as many guns and high-capacity magazines as you possibly can," he said. "Put your plants on three shifts, seven days a week. You won't get stuck with unsold product."
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#27276
NRA's Secret Database Of Gun Owners 1 Year, 3 Months ago Karma: 221

How The NRA Built A Massive Secret Database Of Gun Owners


While the National Rifle Association publicly fights against a national gun registry, the organization has gone to incredible lengths to compile information on “tens of millions” of gun owners — without their consent.

www.buzzfeed.com/stevefriess/how-the-nra...tabase-of-gun-owners

WASHINGTON — The National Rifle Association has rallied gun owners — and raised tens of millions of dollars — campaigning against the threat of a national database of firearms or their owners.

But in fact, the sort of vast, secret database the NRA often warns of already exists, despite having been assembled largely without the knowledge or consent of gun owners. It is housed in the Virginia offices of the NRA itself. The country’s largest privately held database of current, former, and prospective gun owners is one of the powerful lobby’s secret weapons, expanding its influence well beyond its estimated 3 million members and bolstering its political supremacy.

That database has been built through years of acquiring gun permit registration lists from state and county offices, gathering names of new owners from the thousands of gun-safety classes taught by NRA-certified instructors and by buying lists of attendees of gun shows, subscribers to gun magazines, and more, BuzzFeed has learned.

The result: a Big Data powerhouse that deploys the same high-tech tactics all year round that the vaunted Obama campaign used to win two presidential elections.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam declined to discuss the group’s name-gathering methods or what it does with its vast pool of data about millions of non-member gun owners. Asked what becomes of the class rosters for safety classes when instructors turn them in, he replied: “That’s not any of your business.”

Others in the business of big political data, however, say the NRA is using similar tools to those employed by the campaigns of its nemesis, President Barack Obama.

“There are certainly some parallels,” said Laura Quinn, CEO of Catalist, a data analysis firm used by Obama for America. “The NRA is not only able to understand people who their members are but also people who are not their members. The more data they have, the more it allows them test different strategies and different messages on different people.”

“Part of the way they have gotten to a place where they are able to do what they do is through data,” Quinn said. “There is some irony.”

The vast size of the NRA’s database and its sophisticated methods of analyzing the public mood go a long way to explaining the organization’s enduring influence. Even in an age when opinion polls show gun control measures gaining in general popularity and when wealthy benefactors like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are spending millions to counter the NRA’s lobbying and advertising budgets, the NRA has built-in advantages.

The NRA won’t say how many names and what other personal information is in its database, but former NRA lobbyist Richard Feldman estimates they keep tabs on “tens of millions of people.”

“There’s nothing that prevents them from mailing those people,” said Feldman, who split with the NRA in the mid-1990s and is now leads the Independent Firearm Owners Association, which brands itself as a less extreme gun rights group. “The more you know about people, the more targeted the message you can communicate with them, the more the message will resonate with them.”

Some data collection efforts are commonplace in politics these days, such as buying information from data brokers on magazine subscriptions and the like.

But several observers said the NRA’s methods reflect a sophistication and ingenuity that is largely unrivaled outside of major national presidential campaigns. While the organization took great umbrage in December when a newspaper published the names and addresses of gun owners in two New York counties, the group for years as been gathering similar information via the same public records as a matter of course.

In Virginia, for instance, a North Carolina-based firm called Preferred Communications filed an inquiry with the Virginia State Police in July 2009 asking “on behalf of the National Rifle Association” as to whether the names of concealed carry permit holders could be purchased. The email was obtained by BuzzFeed by Freedom of Information Act request.

“Can you please let me know if you offer 2008 and/or 2009 names?” wrote the representative, Michele Wood, who hung up on BuzzFeed when asked for comment. “Can you please let me know the address to send the check to and also whom to make it payable to?”

Iowa too provides another example. In December 2011, NRA lobbyist Christopher Rager, wrote to Iowa Department of Public Safety legislative liaison Ross Loder from an official NRA email address.

“If the NRA wanted to collect data from DPS’ permit holder files, is there a specific process or any rules for us to acquire the records?” Rager wrote in an email also obtained via FOIA. “Can we pay to have the files copied or sent to us?”

Similarly, officials in Arkansas and Oregon also told BuzzFeed they had requests for such lists, and Gawker reported in February of NRA-related registry requests in Louisiana and Tennessee.

“We’ve been doing this since the old days,” Feldman said. “You could obtain from most states the listings of hunter licenses from the Department of Wildlife and Conservations. It was sort of amazing what we knew about people from that. There were early doe permit holders, black powder holders, so many different seasons. It was a lot of data.”

Complementing this practice is the mining of data on the thousands who take gun safety classes from NRA-certified instructors. Arulanandam said there are 97,000 of them, a figure that impressed Quinn as a larger “army of organizers” than Obama had.

In some states, those ranks are propelled by laws that specify that taking classes from NRA-certified instructors in order to obtain permits or licenses. In 2011, for instance, the Iowa Legislature added such a provision.

“Previously there was no reference to the National Rifle Association in the Iowa code,” Loder said. “Before, it would have been a course offered by the local sheriff’s office.”

The NRA’s dominance in the safety class realm is an obvious public relations boon for the group, but it predates the organization’s political activism by nearly a century. The group was founded, in fact, to improve marksmanship and teach safe, effective shooting, said NRA-certified senior trainer Mike Weisser, owner of a gun store in Ware, Massachusetts.

Yet nowadays those classes are also an important way of adding information about gun owners to the database, Weisser said.

“After people take a class, then you as an instructor can send all their names to Washington and you get credit for that,” Weisser said. “If you can show you’ve taught enough classes, you can move up in the hierarchy as an NRA trainer.”

Moving up in the hierarchy can mean being licensed to teach more types of gun safety classes and being able to charge more, he said.

“If I send the class roster in, the NRA starts sending information to these people to either join the NRA or to support NRA positions,” he said. “In many of the classes, at some point, somebody will get up to give a pitch to join the NRA. Most trainers will also hand out the member application for NRA.”

Most of these activities aim to convert gun owners into dues-paying NRA members or contributors to the NRA’s political action committee, but Feldman said a parallel motive is to maintain a network. Political operatives who understand the new science of voter modeling regard gun ownership as a key predictor of someone’s politics regardless of whether they are NRA members, and the NRA uses those non-members to extend its influence by finding just the right language and tone to speak to them, Quinn said.

Jon Bond, co-founder of the powerhouse Manhattan ad firm Kirshenbaum Bond and Partners, said it is an important reason why alternative gun-related organizations are at a huge disadvantage. Bond and his wife co-founded a new anti-violence group called Evolve to appeal to people who believe both sides of the debate are too extreme.

Bond views the NRA’s grip, derived from its sophisticated data operation, as perhaps the biggest challenge to anyone else effectively influencing the political conversation.

The data “gives the NRA more power,” Bond said. “It’s valuable politically because what it does is, it extends the reach of its political leverage beyond NRA members. They have gun owners, not just NRA members. There’s multiple purposes for it.”

While the NRA’s influence on Congress is most often the media’s focus, the sort of microtargeting the group can do is at least as powerful in state capitals. A case in point was the successful effort to get Washington state Rep. Maureen Walsh, a Republican from Walla Walla, to remove her name from co-sponsorship of a background check bill in March.

Walsh said she was motivated by the Sandy Hook shooting to sign on to the measure, but was then deluged by more than 1,200 letters and calls from angry constituents. While many of them were from declared NRA members, she said, lots of them were from people who specified they weren’t with the NRA but had been alerted by the group to the pending bill.

“They know quite a bit on that level about people in my district,” said Walsh, who decided the bill had its own loophole problems and wouldn’t reduce gun violence. “I don’t have any doubt in my mind that they stay ahead of the game and that they put their opinions in front of” non-members who agree with them.

The NRA used the specter of a national gun registry to great effect in the debate over the Manchin-Toomey background check bill that failed last spring. Even though the bill explicitly prohibited the federal government from creating such a database, it was a talking point that senators who opposed the measure repeatedly cited.

Yet there does not seem to be the same concern among gun owners about the NRA’s own efforts to amass the same information.

“It’s probably partially true that people don’t know the information is being collected,” said Feldman, “but but even if they don’t know it, they probably won’t care because the NRA is not part of the government.”
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#27279
Re: NRA's Secret Database Of Gun Owners 1 Year, 3 Months ago Karma: 266
Lol Earl!!!!!!



Can the U.S. possibly get any more Machiavellian (and just, plain funny)??? Again Earl, perhaps more "This Will Put A Smile On Your Face..." material?

We have the NRA being the very outspoken "leader" in "protecting the rights of gun-owners"; and (conveniently) it gets virtually infinite amounts of free advertising from the Corporate Media to make sure all the gun-owners know what "good work" it is doing. And on that basis it has "recruited" most of the gun-lovers in the U.S. into its membership database (lol!!).

And one of its most-hyped battles is to fight any sort of "national gun registry"; because (as all good gun-lovers know) if the government ever got a List of all gun-owners, the next day the Great Gun Round-Up would begin (lol). So they all register with the NRA for "protection".



Meanwhile, as we've learned from previous posts from Earl on the NRA; over a decade ago its executive was completely HIJACKED by Corporate America -- the very same "Corporate America" which pulls the strings of the U.S.'s Puppet Government. This brings us to the punch-line.

We have gun-lovers "preventing" the U.S. government from ever getting a List of gun-owners...by voluntary giving the same List to the U.S. government's Masters.



They are such a clever bunch...
Jeff Nielson
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#27370
Re: NRA's Secret Database Of Gun Owners 1 Year, 3 Months ago Karma: 38
I have a very hard time even reading this.

Because we all know it is garbage. The NRA; the military complex goes against every human nature. This is all profit, We all know it.

There is no excuse for assualt weapons anywhere, NO EXCUSE/DEFENSE of anyone owning a weapon that shoots off 100's of rounds of death at their doorstep.

HOWEVER what worries is the US govt. attempting to curb yet another right of the Constitution. Right to bear arms. I choose not to but. No need for me to have assault weapons but also do not take away my right to choose responsibly.

Guess I am actually bending here. I think that the US (Canada) ae heading for a fall. Do I want pepper spray? Yes. I have video on my property. I have dogs and I live in a very safe, rural area. What do you do when the finances collapse in the BIG city?

Right now Detroit is flooded by neglected. uncared for, bred for garbage pups. I know Pit Bulls. They are like any living thing. Hate in= hate out. Senseless death. Just a mirror of what will happen when the money runs out. Stocks FAIL. Bonds crash. Bail-in's go down. When the plan hits the next step. Which is get the wealth off the boomers. When the trillions of dollars in Boomer funds are raped by "say 70%" Who wants anyone to actually own a gun.????

Heaven help the USA. And Harper is a leg-humper wannabe.

Do I wish an assault rifle. No of course but that is what is being st up.
IMHO the USA is going down fast. And there is a tradition of guns. Heaven help.
zooey
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#27382
Re: NRA's Secret Database Of Gun Owners 1 Year, 3 Months ago Karma: 266
zooey wrote:
I have a very hard time even reading this.

Because we all know it is garbage. The NRA; the military complex goes against every human nature. This is all profit, We all know it.

There is no excuse for assualt weapons anywhere, NO EXCUSE/DEFENSE of anyone owning a weapon that shoots off 100's of rounds of death at their doorstep.

HOWEVER what worries is the US govt. attempting to curb yet another right of the Constitution. Right to bear arms. I choose not to but. No need for me to have assault weapons but also do not take away my right to choose responsibly.

Guess I am actually bending here. I think that the US (Canada) ae heading for a fall. Do I want pepper spray? Yes. I have video on my property. I have dogs and I live in a very safe, rural area. What do you do when the finances collapse in the BIG city?

Right now Detroit is flooded by neglected. uncared for, bred for garbage pups. I know Pit Bulls. They are like any living thing. Hate in= hate out. Senseless death. Just a mirror of what will happen when the money runs out. Stocks FAIL. Bonds crash. Bail-in's go down. When the plan hits the next step. Which is get the wealth off the boomers. When the trillions of dollars in Boomer funds are raped by "say 70%" Who wants anyone to actually own a gun.????

Heaven help the USA. And Harper is a leg-humper wannabe.

Do I wish an assault rifle. No of course but that is what is being st up.
IMHO the USA is going down fast. And there is a tradition of guns. Heaven help.



Zooey, my sentiments are similar to your own ambivalence. I'm personally opposed to gun-ownership -- but I'm not wanting to IMPOSE my own viewpoint on others.

Rather, what's important here is for the PEOPLE to reach a consensus (on both sides of the fence), so that they can form a UNITED FRONT versus the Real Enemy -- our governments, and the One Bank standing behind them.

The insistence of the Gun Lovers in being confrontational and obstructionist, and in choosing to SERVE the (Corporate) NRA means they are nothing but Perfect Pawns -- all "reaction" and no thought.

They are the EASIEST of all the Sheep to manipulate...

Jeff Nielson
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