Nel's New Day

September 11, 2013

NRA, ALEC Bring ‘Wave of Fear’

The NRA had a win yesterday when two Colorado legislators were voted out because they supported a universal background check for gun purchasing and a limit of 15 rounds in an ammunition magazine in the state. John Morse and Angela Giron were the targets in the recall that brought out fewer than 55,000 voters in an election requiring people to physically vote at the polls rather than using mail-in ballots. Only 35.66 percent in Giron’s district voted, a decline of 23 percent when she was elected. Morse was recalled by 343 votes in an election that brought out 21.25 percent of the voters, 37 percent decline since three years earlier.

People opposed to the new laws tried to recall five legislators but managed to get signatures for only Morse and Giron It was reported that recall supporters intimidated voters at Pueblo polling centers. One person said, “Volunteers are being followed, threatened, having their pictures taken and yelled at. We’re now being told that it’s bad enough to call 911 immediately.” Giron was also the target of the Pueblo newspaper, The Chieftain, who identified himself as a gun owner when he wrote her to tell her he was “responsible for the entire newspaper, including the newsroom.”

There was no real point to recalling these people because the law had already passed, their terms are up in a year, and the legislature still has a Democratic majority. No point except fear. Jon Caldara of the Colorado Independence Institute, claimed:

“If the president of the Senate of Colorado, who did nothing except pass the laws that Bloomberg wrote, gets knocked out, there will be a shudder, a wave of fear that runs across every state legislator across the country, that says, ‘I ain’t doing that ever. That is not happening to me. I will not become a national embarrassment, I will not take on those guys.’ That’s how big this is.”

The NRA paid almost $400,000 to send this “wave of fear” across the country.

At the same time, George Zimmerman, the poster person for Florida’s “stand your ground” laws, continues to be in the news. In the two months since he was acquitted  by a jury for the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin, the police have picked him up for speeding at least twice, once in Texas and the other time in Florida. After a panicky 911 call from Zimmerman’s wife two days ago, the police went to the home where she is living with her father. She reported on the call that “he’s going to shoot us,” had punched the father-in-law in the face, and grabbed her iPad and “then smashed it and cut it with a pocket knife.” The police is trying to get a copy of her video from the damaged iPad.

Zimmerman has a history of violence that was not brought out at the trial because evidence of “prior bad acts” are inadmissible, according to procedural rules, unless he testified under oath and claimed he had no history of violence. In a civil case, Zimmerman might be required to testify, but Florida’s law allows Zimmerman to be granted civil immunity, meaning that Martin’s family might have to pay Zimmerman’s lost wages and attorney’s fees. This part of the law comes from ALEC although they now claim that they no longer support this policy after massive protests across the country. Because of ALEC, over 30 states have adopted a form of “stand your ground” laws.

When Shellie Zimmerman called the police, she said that she was “really, really scared.” She said that he “continually has his hand on his gun and he keeps saying step closer and he is just threatening all of us.” According to police, Zimmerman said that he did not have a gun. In contradiction, his lawyer, Mark O’Mara said:

 “[Zimmerman] acted appropriately. He never took the weapon out. The only thing he really did, which is what he told the police, was on the outside of his shirt, he made sure the gun wasn’t moving anywhere and didn’t do anything because [Zimmerman’s father-in-law] Mr. Dean was sort of coming at him, that can sort of be seen in the video.”

When asked if he had the gun on his person and not elsewhere, for example in his car, O’Mara replied, “That’s correct.”

Shellie Zimmerman has recanted the story that she gave on the 911 call and to the police after talking to her lawyer. At this time she is receiving $4,300 each month from the legal defense of $300,000 that people donated to Zimmerman, income that might stop if Zimmerman goes back to jail.

O’Mara announced that he would no longer represent George Zimmerman in this case. At a later press conference when O’Mara was asked if he had any advice for Zimmerman, he replied, “Pay me.” Zimmerman still owes O’Mara for defending him in the murder trial. 

In another Florida story, the man who shot three people in a neighborhood feud, killing two of them, has gone beyond the state’s “stand your ground” law. William T. Woodward is now declaring defense by the “Bush doctrine.” He said that the men had been calling him names and yelling at him for over a month. On the fatal night, they supposedly said, “Come on boys. We’re going to get him. We’re going to get him, all three of us.” Nobody hit him or approached him or came on his property. Woodward took action by sneaking up on them and firing at them with a semiautomatic weapon.

According to Woodward’s lawyer, the Bush Doctrine, the foreign policy principle that George W. Bush used to invade Iraq, embraces “preventive” or pre-emptive war and can be equated to Woodward’s actions. Even now “stand your ground” laws include the word “imminent” but have no specific legal definition. A few minutes? A few hours? Maybe a few days? Or maybe something that might happen in the future, according to Enoch v. State.

And gun laws can get even crazier. Iowa won’t give drivers’ licenses to blind people, but the state will issue concealed gun carry permits to them. In the past it may have made a bit of sense (although I’m not sure how), but 2011 legal changes in gun permits means that blind people can carry firearms in public. A spokesperson from one county said that gun permits were given to at least three people who cannot legally drive and cannot read the application forms or had trouble doing this because they are visually impaired. Three other county sheriffs said that they also did this.

“I’m not an expert in vision,” Delaware Sheriff John LeClere said. “At what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn’t be shooting something.” As Stevie Wonder, who has been blind since birth, said last January, “Imagine me with a gun. It’s just crazy.”

Gun rights advocates will support weapons for anyone—including the blind–but sometimes advocate restricting voting rights. Both of these are constitutional rights, but with the conservative push to rid the country of Democrats in legislatures, voting has become increasingly difficult. At the same time, ALEC and the NRA are determined to make the act of buying a gun far easier than it already is. There are 33 states that require no ID for buying a weapon; there are no states that allow voting without an ID. Some of the ID laws are reasonable; more and more of them are not. This ID mania is the “wave of fear” that’s sweeping the nation.

1 Comment »

  1. Much as I don’t like what happened in Colorado it’s not just the NRA’s fault. It’s the fault of the people who supported the law the two legislators passed but couldn’t be bothered to get out and vote. It’s easy to blame it on restrictive voting laws, but if people want to vote they will find a way. They know this voting suppression is going on and they have time to get ID. I know not everyone can afford it, but you can’t convince me over 75% of the population can’t get ID or don’t already have it. It’s indifference that caused this, and it will do the same thing next year.

    Get out and vote or you have no one but yourself to blame when (if) the country goes deeper into hell because Republicans take over the government.


    Comment by gkparker — September 11, 2013 @ 11:00 PM | Reply

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