NRA’s New Poster Children from Michigan May Help Spell the Demise of the Gun Lobby
Prior to Cindy Gamrat’s expulsion in disgrace from the Michigan House, Democracy Tree wrote about the former lawmaker’s package of bills designed to completely do-away with registration and licensing of concealed weapons. Accompanying that article was a July 26, 2015 photo gleaned from Gamrat’s Facebook page showing her standing next to some folks at a Second Amendment event.
Gamrat said of the meeting: “I had a wonderful time spending time with some of the top Second Amendment supporters and defenders in Michigan today.” She didn’t offer the names of the individuals, although their gaudy display of weaponry certainly made the two memorable.
Lo and behold, they popped-up again in a Detroit News article last week. It seems Gamrat’s friends attended the deceptively named “Global Rally for Humanity” held in the predominately Muslim community of Dearborn, Michigan. Attendees at the anti-Islam protest were strongly urged to open carry weapons at the event, as was the case at similar demonstrations across the nation that day. In addition to carrying sidearms, some participants held signs with “Stop the Islamization of America”, but the overwhelming majority of participants turned-out to be counter-protestors.
The hateful rally was a miserable flop of the kind the gun lobby should expect to get used to in the future.
A Gun Nut Overreach
The dismal turnout of fellow gun-toters didn’t appear to deter Gamrat’s friends. Their names are Chris and Marty Welch, a couple from Cadillac, Michigan, a small town located several hours north of the previous weekend’s Islam-bashing event. The Welch’s explained to the News that “We’re here for the second amendment, not for no religion or anything.” That disclaimer smells a bit specious — kind of like saying: I only attended the KKK rally to demonstrate it’s okay to wear white after Labor Day. The Global Rally for Humanity was clearly meant to intimidate the Muslim community on religious grounds, and to conflate them with terrorism and ISIS.
As it turns out, the Welch’s do in fact frequent Second Amendment events. There are Getty Images available for purchase of both posing with guns and flags. They show up again armed and star-spangled in a WZZM Channel 13 report on a gun rally in 2014. And, there’s also a YouTube interview with them from April of this year at an NRA sponsored event in Nashville, Tennessee. Chris did most of the talking, at one point referring to his wife as “100 percent hillbilly” — which she didn’t seem to mind in the least. Queried about his personal arsenal, Welch explained “It’s what this country is built on — God, guns, and blood.”
Gun Hoarding Marks the Beginning of the End for the NRA
In the wake of the recent Oregon shooting, writer Alec MacGillis penned a thought-provoking piece in The New York Times urging readers not to give up hope on reigning-in America’s gun mania. The article titled “The Gun Lobby’s Power is Overstated” brings to light a number of aspects seldom heard in the din of argument following these all too frequent tragedies.
First, gun ownership — as an overall percentage of the U.S. population — has decreased dramatically over recent decades, but among those dwindling few who do acquire weapons, they are stockpiling them. (One could make the case that it’s a form of hoarding disorder.) What this means in practical terms is that the gun lobby and manufacturers have a smaller and smaller number of supporters being concentrated into increasingly isolated pockets across the country — a fact that is likely to inform lawmakers who have traditionally gone along with the NRA, just to get long.
MacGillis reminds us that in the wake of Sandy Hook, the two Democrats in the Senate who voted against the 2013 gun control initiative were subsequently snubbed by the NRA, the lobby instead backed Republicans running against them. Both lost their seats the following year.
Driving his point home, MacGillis offers:
“Meanwhile, two Democratic governors who signed tough gun laws, in Colorado and Connecticut, both won re-election in an otherwise brutal year for their party. A year earlier, Terry McAuliffe was elected governor of Virginia, the N.R.A.’s home state, while running on an outspokenly anti-N.R.A. platform.”
Gun Advocates Fire Back
MacGillis’ assertion stands in stark contrast to an opinion piece published three days later at BearingArms.com titled Debunking the “Declining Number of Gun Owners” Lie. Citing a 2011 Gallop poll finding that 47 percent of households were at that time in possession of some type of firearm, the author, admitting that surveys do not reflect true data, instead relies on an uptick in concealed carry permits and gun sales as the basis for the imagined surge in armed Americans. In fact, another Gallop poll indicates a marked decline of gun-ownership households over the past 55-plus years:
The pro-gun site additionally simply scoffs at the findings of a comprehensive longitudinal study from the Violence Policy Center which found that the number of households with firearms has shrunk to slightly over 32 percent by 2014, down from just under 50 percent in 1973 — a finding which translated into an overall decrease in individual ownership by 10 percent during that period. Whichever survey is more accurate is unknown, but they both show a clear downward trend.
BearingArms.com went on to brag that the gun industry is “virtually the only part of the economy to show steady growth during the Obama Presidency.” Are we now to believe that the 12.8 million private sector jobs created between Feb. 2008 and June 2015 are mostly in the gun industry? It seems the only meaningful correlation between Obama and gun sales would be those select individuals who rush out to amass firepower whenever the president comments on America’s propensity for violence — derisively tagged “ammosexuals”, they are few in number, but heavily armed.
In addition to the MacGillis piece on the shrinking number of gun owners, which earned traction at a number sites, there seems to be a stronger tone coming from the media on gun control in general. Jess Cagle, Editorial Director at People, used his position to urge Americans to take the message directly to all 535 members of Congress. His editorial went to the extraordinary length of including links to email and twitter accounts of all the lawmakers. Cagle said:
“We need to know that our representatives in Washington, D.C., are looking for solutions and not giving up, and they need to know if we agree or disagree with their strategies.”
As for Gamrat and her friends, like it or not, we are all judged by the company we keep, and the failed lawmaker has already demonstrated clearly through personal affiliations her inability to live up to the higher standard of integrity expected of an elected official. The Welch’s attendance at the anti-Islam event speaks for itself.
Find the congressional contact list from People HERE.
Related: Ann Arbor School Board President tells Lansing to end its romance with the NRA — story HERE.
Find a list of concealed carry permit holders in Michigan who killed in cold blood HERE.
Postscript update: One argument put forth in defense of America’s fascination with firepower is that gun deaths have plummeted since the early 1990s. This is almost entirely due to the advent of cell phones and to excessive incarceration. Phones changed the nature of drug dealing, and thus, decreased gang violence because dealers were no longer on the streets. The early 1990’s crackdown on drug-related crime is a substantial causative factor in the skyrocketing rate of incarceration. Many dealers are now behind bars serving exorbitantly long sentences, so the spike in crime has subsided.
While the decrease in gang related death is certainly good news, it doesn’t mitigate in any way the number of deaths still occurring on American soil.
A recent Forbes article contained a few enlightening infographics. The first is a comparison of the U.S. gun death rate to our peer nations (It would be inappropriate to do an apples to oranges comparison with the war-torn or unstable countries that are experiencing violent unrest.)
Comparison by peer nations:
Gun deaths versus automobile deaths in the United States:
Suicide and unintentional gun deaths in the United States remain alarmingly high. Remember, there are 88 guns per 100 people, although most of those weapons are increasingly concentrated into fewer households. They all too frequently fall into to the hands of children, and Michigan is among the worst.
Child gun deaths, nationally, over a one-year period (2014):