This one has been getting run over by the Information Superhighway for a day or two now, but I could not let the tasty schadenfreude disappear into the ether. In an effort to promote Iron Man 3, which clearly does not need additional promotion, managers at Goodrich Capital 8 Theatres in Jefferson City, invited actors who "appeared at the theater in the Missouri state capital during the weekend opening of Iron Man 3 dressed as officers and one as Iron Man." Another actor was dressed in "all-dark clothes" and carrying "what appeared to be a modified M-4 and 9 mm on his side."
Officers thought they were responding to a real shooter when they received multiple 911 calls. Later the theater would issue an apology:
We apologize and are sympathetic to those who felt they were in harm’s way with our character promotion for Iron Man 3. This was not a publicity stunt. We have worked with the Cosplacon group on many movies to dress up and help entertain our customers. We have had many complaints about the members dressed specifically as S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives carrying fake guns. We didn’t clearly tell our customers and some people didn’t realize it was for entertainment purposes only. We apologize that police were called to come out to our theater. We have a wonderful working relationship with the Jefferson City Police Department. Going forward we will take the necessary steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Security and safety for our customers is our number one priority.
Good job, everybody!
I saw David Letterman's "Stooge of the Night" segment for the first time last night. (Apologies if I'm late to the party on this; according to NewsBusters—"Exposing & Combating Liberal Media Bias"—he's been at it for a while.) It's remarkable, and it reminds me why I've always liked Letterman so much. It's also ballsy and goofy and painfully uncomfortable and 100 percent necessary. I have to imagine the people at the Late Show are getting no end of shit for doing this. I hope like hell they keep it up.
The National Rifle Association (NRA)’s overtures to children have come under fire after its annual conference last week, which advertised weapons for children and advocated storing firearms in kids’ rooms just on the heels of the fatal shooting of a two year old by her five year old brother. A ThinkProgress review of the NRA children’s magazine, InSights, found another piece of disturbing advice: kids should build target ranges inside their homes.
Build a target range in your home today, kid. Because at some point you're going to run out of siblings.
Bear that in mind while you read this from the April newsletter of the Republican Party of Benton County:
We need to let those who will come in the future to represent us [know] that we are serious. The 2nd amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line and stopped responding as representatives. It seems that we are unable to muster that belief in any of our representatives on a state or federal level, but we have to have something, something costly, something that they will fear that we will use if they step out of line.
So... according to the Republican Party in Benton County, Arkansas... supporters of background checks should shoot the U.S. senators who blocked background checks. Those senators have stopped responding as representatives—they're blocking the clear will of the overwhelming majority of American people. And if we don't shoot those U.S. senators who blocked background checks, well, then the 2nd Amendment means nothing! So to protect the 2nd Amendment those of us who don't support the 2nd Amendment are going to have to shoot those U.S. senators who do support the 2nd Amendment. It makes perfect sense. (Via Political Wire.)
The US Senate today put down—in a bipartisan filibuster—a watered-down compromise on expanded background checks for gun purchases. President Barack Obama, responding to the news today, dropped his usual professorial act. In a blistering 13-minute speech, flanked by families touched by gun violence, he accused the gun lobby of "willfully" lying about the bill and nay-saying senators of bowing to cowardice amid fears that a "vocal minority of gun owners" would come after them during the next election.
He also smacked back at conservative outlets who didn't like that families who know the pain of death were lending their voices to the debate, suggesting the president was resorting to "emotional blackmail."
"Do they really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don't have the right to weigh in?"
It's powerful stuff. Watch it all. And Mr. President (because I know you read Blogtown)? More of this please.
Irony is sometimes reality... suicide by gun in infield of NRA 500 NASCAR race.
No, wait. They don't:
Myth #5: Keeping a gun at home makes you safer. Fact-check: Owning a gun has been linked to higher risks of homicide, suicide, and accidental death by gun.
• For every time a gun is used in self-defense in the home, there are 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts, and 4 accidents involving guns in or around a home.
• 43% of homes with guns and kids have at least one unlocked firearm.
• In one experiment, one third of 8-to-12-year-old boys who found a handgun pulled the trigger.
I wish Harry Reid felt the same way about the fucking filibuster.
In other gun news: a four-year-old boy shot a six-year-old in the head with a rifle yesterday. It was the same day that a four-year-old shot and killed a 48-year-old woman. If the only thing that can stop a bad man with a gun, per the NRA, is a good man with a gun... um... then how does the NRA propose to stop four year olds with guns?
Yesterday, President Obama traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to speak about the importance of gun control. It's a good speech, reminiscent of Obama's State of the Union address from earlier this year, when he called for a simple up-or-down vote for the families of Newtown victims. During the speech, Obama urges Americans to call their representatives and demand a vote. Here's the whole thing:
You're probably living an MKTG life too since you're reading the Merc (on the tubes, no less) so you probably won't know the answers to these questions either. But could you do me a favor? Next time you meet somebody who is passionately anti-gun control but not pro-crazy, can you ask them these questions and report back? I'm really curious.
1] Why is this your issue? How is this the thing that gets you excited about the political process? The government is prosecuting people for Google searches, but you're only concerned about your liberty when you can't buy war machines? Do you get as passionate about violations of the 1st amendment as the 2nd? How about that pesky 15th?
2] Why do you think you're going to survive the nuclear apocalypse? In the unlikely event that civilized society crumbles because of a series of nuclear bombs killing 99.9% of Americans, why do you assume you're going come out unscathed and ready to start having pistol duels with other survivors? Are you nuke proof? Why are you not sharing your cockroach-like skills with the rest of the country?
3] Has anybody ever successfully defended their family with a gun? Like ever? No, I don't mean defended himself from his girlfriend in the bathroom or defended his garage from his girlfriend's unarmed husband or defended his neighborhood when it was under siege from a kid with some Skittles or... or... or... I mean, has anybody ever had a violent attacker enter their home and because of some quick draw action and precise shooting prevented his family from being harmed? It's got to have happened at least once, right?
4] When you talk about how you're worried about slippery slopes, do you understand the metaphor you're using? The thing with a slippery slope is if you start down it, it's hard to stop yourself. But laws don't work that way. It's not like if we passed a magazine limit, other gun laws would just start passing themselves. I heard a senator say "If we pass this now, what's going to happen next time?" I don't know. Maybe you'll vote "no" on that one? Doesn't sound very slippery to me. Sounds like a slope with grippy stairs and a handrail so people can decide how far to climb down it.
5] Is it weird to always be the most passionate about something after it's been used to murder children? Guns are only debated in the wake of tragedy which puts pro-gunners in the awkward position of saying "Let's not blame these murder weapons." That's gotta be weird, right? It seems weird.
I mostly think of guns like trampolines: they're lots of fun and if you have one around your house your kid might kill himself with it. I think trampolines should be legal. But if somebody made it their life's work to keep governments from limiting trampoline rights or secretly passed laws making it illegal to study the safety of trampolines, they'd seem kinda creepy.
And yet, I'm very persuadable. If you could answer my questions or pass them off to somebody who could, I'd appreciate it a great deal.
Guns don't kill people? Umm... yes, they do. But would you like to know what really doesn't kill people? THUMBS! Especially thumbs that are UP! On the hilarious site "Thumbs & Ammo," participants erase the guns from classic movie and TV stills, and show the characters expressing a far more positive attitude! Thumbs UP, gun control laws!
An Oklahoma woman arrested Monday on drug charges had a loaded handgun hidden in her vagina, according to police.
The weapon was discovered during a search of Christie Dawn Harris, 28, by a female officer with the Ada Police Department. According to a police report, the cop spotted the handle of the five-shot revolver "sticking out from" inside Harris....
... The Freedom Arms .22-caliber handgun was loaded with three live rounds and one spent shell, cops reported. As to where the weapon was recovered, the police report noted, “gun located in suspect vagina.”
Get those hugs ready! (And don't forget to stretch out first.)
Just in time for this week's story on a bill by State Senator Ginny Burdick that would ban high-capacity ammo clips in Oregon—complete with quotes from Burdick calling it "good policy," the Portland Democrat has been told it won't be happening this legislative session.
The Oregonian reported today that Burdick's bill on ammo will join another bill seeking a state assault weapon ban in legislative committee limbo. Read the story in here.
House Judiciary Chairman Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, who is another key figure in the gun-control debate, said he doesn't plan to take up Burdick's legislation or another bill in the House that would bar the sale of semi-automatic military-style rifles often known as assault weapons.
"I personally think that the high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic weapon issues need to be done at the federal level," said Prozanski.
Burdick does have other gun control bills that are moving forward, including a bill banning people with concealed handgun permits from bringing guns onto school grounds. The O's story also says some other gun legislation is still on track, including bills that would strengthen existing background check requirements, ban guns in the Capitol, and require people doing live-fire training to obtain a concealed handgun permit.
I've left a message with Burdick seeking comment and will update if and when I hear back.
Here's a shorter version of this video starring Republican State Rep. Eric Burlison: "Says here, this bill gon' take our guns! LET'S SHOOT IT!"
This is exactly what our Founding Fathers were thinking about when they wrote the Constitution. Reasoned arguments are the lifeblood of democracy.
If you're on the NRA's enemies list, you're probably a good person.
[Retired Price is Right game show host Bob] Barker is among 494 people, organizations and companies on an NRA list of those holding positions it finds hostile. The roster, posted on the website of the largest U.S. pro-gun group, also includes poet Maya Angelou, the United Methodist Church and the National Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs.
Also on the list: Several rabbis, Danny DeVito, and Levi Strauss & Co. I think the NRA could make compiling this list easier if they crowd-sourced it. I would happily go onto an NRA website and volunteer my name as an enemy of the NRA.
At least 233 people have died in a fire that swept through a nightclub in Santa Maria, a university town in southern Brazil. Many of the victims succumbed to the toxic fumes, or were crushed to death in the crowd's panicked efforts to escape. The fire reportedly started when a band set off fireworks.
It's a horrible tragedy, and the focus for the moment should be on comforting the grieving. But...
The priority for the authorities is now to identify the dead with many distressed relatives arriving at the scene, but in the hours ahead the focus will turn to the cause of this accident and safety procedures at the club, the BBC's Gary Duffy reports from Sao Paulo.
The strict fire codes we have—capacity limits, emergency exits, sprinkler systems, bans on certain activities, etc.—came in the wake of similar tragedies. Because, you know, the gun nuts are kinda metaphorically right when they say that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." The same is true of nightclubs. So we regulate the people running these night clubs in an effort to avoid preventable tragedies like that which just happened in Brazil. If the authorities find the fire codes weren't up to best practices, one hopes they'll tighten them. If they find that the night club owners violated existing codes, they'll presumedly be prosecuted, and local authorities will hopefully redouble their efforts to enforce the regulations already in place.
Likewise, when we talk of gun control, we're not really talking about regulating guns, but rather, regulating the people who use guns. Our nation is suffering an epidemic of gun violence totally disproportionate to that being suffered anywhere in the world that isn't in the midst of a bloody civil war. Clearly, there are regulations that might lessen this ongoing American tragedy. Perhaps, for example, keeping guns out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill via mandatory background checks on all private gun sales.
So yeah, guns on their own don't kill people. But then, neither do nightclubs. Our goal as a nation should be to find the proper regulatory balance between the benefits of gun ownership, both individual and societal, and the cost. And given our annual gun carnage, it is currently reasonable to argue that this balance is tragically out of whack.
The National Rifle Association just blasted reporters with the results of a recent survey of its members, touting a popular sentiment to deny guns to the mentally ill. Now, if you ask me, all members of NRA must be mentally ill. But as a friend of mine argued, "That's not fair to mentally ill people."
Among other issues, the NRA found members don't want the government to take away all their guns:
91% of NRA members support laws keeping firearms away from the mentally ill.
92% of NRA members oppose gun confiscation via mandatory buy-back laws.
89% oppose banning semi-automatic firearms, often mistakenly called “assault rifles”.
93% oppose a law requiring gun owners to register with the federal government.
92% oppose a new federal law banning the sale of firearms between private citizens.
The only reason to ask that question—do you think the government should seize all guns?—and promote their reply is if NRA members believe that an actual, potentially real, not-a-parody-of-itself-but-totally-genuine policy is on the horizon to do that. But if they believe in that outlandish scenario, if they actually think that's part of the debate about gun control in America right now, they aren't just mentally ill. They're totally fucking nuts.
The full results of their batshit crazy poll are here.
Paul Waldman, at the American Prospect, reacts and expands on Josh Marshall's post about the rights of non-gun owners. It's required reading:
As I've written before, the goal of many gun advocates, particularly those who promote concealed carry, is that we make it so as many people as possible take as many guns as possible into as many places as possible. That's been the focus of their legislative efforts in recent years, not only passing concealed carry laws nearly everywhere, but also passing laws to make you able to take guns into bars, schools, government buildings, houses of worship, and so on, and also advocating for laws that would let you take your guns to communities where it would be otherwise illegal to carry them. Which would mean that your right to carry your gun trumps the right of everyone else to say, this is a place where we've decided we don't want people bringing guns.
Is it possible that on my next visit to the local coffee place, a madman might come and shoot the place up? Yes, it's possible. And is it possible that if half the patrons were armed, one of them might be able to take him down and limit the number of people he killed? Yes, it's possible. It's also possible that I'll win the next Powerball. But if holding out that infinitesimal possibility means that every time I go down for a coffee, I'm entering a place full of guns, it's not a price I'm willing to pay. That's the decision I've made, and it's the decision that the other people in my community have made as well.
But gun advocates want to create a society governed by fear, or at the very least, make sure that everyone feels the same fear they feel. "An armed society is a polite society," they like to say, and it's polite because we're all terrified of each other. They genuinely believe that that the price of safety is that there should be no place where guns, and the fear and violence they embody, are not present. Not your home, not your kids' school, not your supermarket, not your church, no place. But for many of us—probably for most of us—that vision of society is nothing short of horrifying.
It's tricky to bet on the stock market, but there's one business whose sales are easy to predict: Guns. In recent history, sales of guns tend to spike amid political discussion of gun control and after high-profile shootings. I called around to Portland gun dealers yesterday to see whether the national trend was holding true locally after Obama's announcement of his support for new gun control laws.
Indeed, the three Portland gun sellers I spoke with reported that a big increase in gun sales recently. Shaun Lacasse, manager of the Gun Room on SE Foster, says the shootings have had more of an impact on sales than the political debate. "Let me put it this way, since this stuff started a month ago, sales have been off the charts, people have been buying protection: hand guns," says Lacasse. While the store sold out "almost instantly" of most assault rifles and high capacity magazine cartridges that the new federal laws could ban, "The most popular gun is the concealable hand gun."
Under Oregon law, before any person can get a concealed hand gun permit, they are required to take a safety course. It's also one of the few states to require background checks at gun shows, though background checks for people buying guns in stores is voluntary.
See, this is how the political game is played. President Barack Obama proposes more sweeping gun control regulations, and the NRA ends up giving ground on the notion of closing the "gun show loophole":
The president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Thursday said that the organization was “generally supportive” of strong background checks on firearm purchasers.
“We want to see the proposal, but as a general proposition, the NRA has been very supportive of doing background checks on purchasers through the instant system and secondly of adding the potentially violently mentally ill to the database,” said NRA chief David Keene in an interview with “CBS This Morning.”
There had been whispers just a few days ago, that President Obama would not seek to reinstate the ban on assault weapons. Had he not, no doubt the NRA would be sounding less conciliatory on mandatory background checks for all gun purchases—a proposal a new CBS poll shows that 92 percent of Americans support.
The assault weapons ban will no doubt be a tough fight in Congress, but thanks in part to its inclusion in the president's proposal, closing the gun show loophole appears all but done. Politics!
Among the initiatives outlined in Mr. Obama's plan include universal background checks for gun sales, the reinstatement and strengthening of the assault weapons ban, capping ammunition magazines to a 10-round limit, banning armor-piercing ammunition, providing schools with resource officers and school counselors, putting more police officers on the streets, creating serious punishments for gun trafficking, and ensuring that health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.
The president also outlined a series of 23 executive actions he can take without congressional approval, including measures aimed at making federal background check data widely available, accessible, and maximally effective; staying ahead of the curve on the newest gun safety measures; tracing seized guns and ensuring they don't go back into the hands of dangerous gun owners; making sure schools and other institutions are equipped and prepared for the possibility of shooter situations; aggressively prosecuting gun crime; and improving mental health resources and discourse.
Here is a list of the president's 23 executive actions that he's taking without Congress.
This was mentioned in GMN, but I didn't think new lows were a possibility for the NRA. I was wrong:
Even if [armed guards in schools] were a good idea, the NRA's sneering references to the president's family are beyond the pale. As the makers of the NRA ad should know, and probably do know, the First Family has come under years of racially coded attack for their "uppityism," as Rush Limbaugh phrased it. This latest attack ad looks to many like only one more attempt to enflame an ancient American wound. Generally speaking, a president's family should not be subject to political criticism. That rule was honorably upheld in the case of the Bush daughters, who grew into fine young people, and the rule should be same for the Obama daughters—especially if it's true, as has been widely reported, that this first family has faced a unique degree of threat.
Via Sullivan, a great point:
T]he country ranked last on the [Small Arms Survey] — with only 0.1 guns per 100 people — is Tunisia, which as you'll recall was still able to overthrow a longtime dictator in 2011. With only 3.5 guns per 100 people, the Egyptian population that overthrew Hosni Mubarak was hardly well armed either. On the other hand, Bahrain, where a popular revolution failed to unseat the country's monarchy, has 24.8 guns per 100 people, putting it in the top 20 worldwide. A relatively high rate of 10.7 guns per 100 people in Venezuela hasn't stopped the deterioration of democracy under Hugo ChÁvez.
Also: If you can't legally buy a tank, or a warplane, or a missile launcher—and you can't—then do you really think you're going to be able to rely on small arms if you someday need to overthrow the government that spends more on its military than the next top 14 countries combined?
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