Common sense gun regulation has been shot dead, but crazy survives even a close call

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Voice of the People by James J. Devineby James J. Devine

The Idaho law allowing people with concealed-carry permits to take firearms onto public campuses went into effect July 1, while most colleges and universities were nearly vacant.

It took more than a week after classes started at Idaho State University Aug. 25, before an assistant professor at the school shot himself while teaching a chemistry lab with a room full of students.

Byron Bennett, the assistant professor of chemistry, shot himself in the foot with a small handgun he kept in his pocket.

Reports say there were 20 students in the chemistry lab, and while none of them were injured, the incident does suggest that anti-gun sentiments and persistent calls for common sense regulation of firearms have a valid foundation.

Besides Idaho, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin have laws that force schools to allow the carrying of firearms on their premises.

Idaho State University physicist Majid Khalaf said the incident demonstrates that guns on campus is a bad idea, but while he may be acquaited with handling nuclear waste and other hazardous material, the professor probably never handled an issue as radioactive as gun control.

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is one of America’s most influential lobbying groups in Washington.

The NRA supported first federal gun-control law — the National Firearms Act of 1934 — along with the Gun Control Act of 1968, which together created a system to federally license gun dealers and established restrictions on particular categories and classes of firearms.

After 1977, the organization expanded its focus on political issues, forming coalitions with conservative Republicans that challenged politicians who supported even the most moderate forms of gun control legislation.

“Today’s NRA is a virtual subsidiary of the gun industry,” said Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center. “While the NRA portrays itself as protecting the ‘freedom’ of individual gun owners, it’s actually working to protect the freedom of the gun industry to manufacture and sell virtually any weapon or accessory.”

The NRA spent $40 million on U.S. elections in 2008, another $10 million in 2010, and nearly $20 million in 2012.

In 2012, 88 percent of Republicans and 11 percent of Democrats in Congress had received an NRA PAC contribution at some point in their career.

In 2006, the NRA lobbied to insert a provision in the Patriot Act reauthorization that requires Senate confirmation of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives director nominees.

For seven years after that, the NRA effectively blocked every presidential nominee to head the law enforcement organization with responsibilities for investigation and prevention of offenses involving the unlawful use, manufacture and possession of firearms and explosives.

Among the NRA’s board members are Oliver “Ollie” North, a former Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who engineered the Iran–Contra scandal as a National Security Council staff member during the Reagan administration.

While he was initially convicted of three felony counts for trading weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of U.S. hostages, North’s convictions were reversed by an appeals court with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

After the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called a video created by the NRA “reprehensible” and said that it demeaned the organization.

Richard Feldman, former NRA regional political director and lobbyist for the firearm industry, exposes the NRA as a cynical, mercenary political cult obsessed with wielding power while exploiting members’ fear in order to maximize contributions.

Feldman says that the NRA betrayed the trust of gun owners, misused their hard-earned donations, and strengthened the hand of those who would take guns away from Americans because group leaders are obsessed with fund-raising, scare-mongering, and wielding political power.

National Rifle Association chief Wayne Lapierre’s compensation in ranged from $948,858 and $1,263,101 per year. Fifty-six people in the organization earned salaries more than $100,000 in 2010 and 10 of them made more than $250,000.

According to the data collected between the Columbine High massacre and the slaughter of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary, there have been a total of 137 fatal school shootings that killed 297 victims since 1980. In between, former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head during a neighborhood meet and greet outside an Arizona supermarket.

With all those compelling reasons to act, it is sad to note that Idaho State University student Randi Leissring is most liely right when she said, “It’s probably going to happen again.”

No federal laws were enacted and no new authorization for enforcement funding has been approved to stop another shooting rampage, despite demands from President Obama and numerous groups, such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

In 2014 alone, there have been school shootings in Tennessee, Connecticut, New Mexico, Texas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Carolina, California, Illinois, Hawai’i, Florida, Iowa, Oregon, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, Michigan, Washington, Oregon.

In addition to 69 Mayors Against Illegal Guns members chose to retire om 2013, 23 mayors lost re-elections in part due to opposition by the National Rifle Association.

Among the local casualties were Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo T. Langford and East Orange Mayor Robert L. Bowser.


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