Find out more →

Get unlimited access. Become a digital member!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dumas: Time to regulate guns, but don't hold your breath

Posted By on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 12:53 PM

EVEN JAY DICKEY: Has rethought need for gun research.
  • EVEN JAY DICKEY: Has rethought need for gun research.
Ernest Dumas observes this week a remarkable softening of two committed gun nuts to the cause of unfettered access to murderous weaponry and blindess to their risks.

Even Mike Ross and Jay Dickey, once stalwarts for the NRA, now see the need for some limitations on weaponry and research into their dangers that could save lives, much as research into auto safety save lives.

Dumas knows better than to expect anything to happen, even with the impetus from the Connecticut school slaughter. In Arkansas, Dickey and Ross have been succeeded in Congress by the camo-clad gun toters, 4th District renter Tom Cotton of the Washington clubhouse of the Club for Growth, and the 2nd District's Tiny Tim Griffin of Bald Knob. And NRA bag-carrier Asa Hutchinson is preparing to run for Arkansas governor.

Read Dumas' full history on the jump.

When gun-industry vassals like Jay Dickey and Mike Ross throw in the towel, you start to think that Congress may finally be ready to try to stop the carnage in schools, churches and public spaces by passing effective controls on mass-murder weaponry.

After a gunman killed 20 children, six faculty members and himself at a Connecticut grade school, the TV networks searched everywhere for one of the gun fanatics to defend the National Rifle Association’s absolute gun- rights stand. There were no takers until Fox News finally found the clownish Texas congressman, Louie Gohmert, who went on the air to declare that if principal Dawn Hochsprung had kept a military M-4 carbine behind her desk, as she should have, she could have blown away the crazy young man before he killed very many children and maybe even have saved herself. She was killed lunging for the man.

Even the NRA shut down its propaganda for a time, but when the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre and his new herald, Asa Hutchinson, finally found their voice and came out guns metaphorically blazing (the solution, they explained, is to pack America’s schools with guns), things got back close to normal.

We have been here before, and nothing important is going to happen, although President Obama and Vice President Biden seem intent upon proposing sweeping reforms. There will be more killing spectacles before Congress gets around to the first votes on gun controls, if it does in this decade, and if something eventually passes it will be token.

Dickey and Ross, it must be remembered, no longer represent half of Arkansas in Congress. The men who represent their old constituency in Congress—Tom Cotton and Rick Crawford—follow the NRA’s commands just as slavishly. They’re joined by the Second District’s Tim Griffin, who laps up more NRA campaign money than nearly every congressman in America. Once LaPierre and Asa had spoken, Griffin dutifully let it be known last week that he was going to be found with the NRA.

It is instructive now to review Dickey’s and Ross’s roles in modern gun nuttery. When the modern movement to control arms, supported then by the NRA, began in the 1960s in response to the threat of armed insurrection by the Black Panthers in California and the Kennedy and King political assassinations. Dickey and Ross were young men who weren’t studying politics. Dickey was a tennis player, not a hunter, but when he arrived in the House of Representatives in 1993 he became an immediate NRA subject.

The spate of mass killings prompted the introduction of a ban on the sale of military assault weapons in 1987. But by the time Congress got around to acting on it in 1994 the NRA’s friends in Congress, including Dickey, had filled the legislation with so many loopholes that assault weapons actually multiplied rather than shrank during the 10 years the ban was in effect. The NRA could argue that the ban was ineffective, so the ban lapsed in 2004.

Dickey was known mainly for loopy stuff. He denied there was a single homosexual in the Fourth Congressional District, and in an interview with Spy magazine he blamed President Clinton for ethnic cleansing in a fictional country called “Freedonia.” But he got things done for the NRA and the weapons makers. He deleted $2.6 million from the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the amount the CDC had once spent on research on firearm injuries and deaths, and to prohibit the government from ever doing gun research.

Eleven years after his defeat by Ross, Dickey repented last summer. In an op-ed article in the Washington Post, Dickey said his amendment had sent a “chilling message” about research on gun violence. In the 10 years before he changed the law the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had sponsored peer-reviewed scientific research on the causes of gun violence, which concluded that people who kept guns in their homes did not, despite their hopes, gain protection but instead faced a 2.7-fold greater risk of murder and a 4.8-fold greater risk of suicide.

Now, Dickey believes that research should be resumed and that Congress should take bold steps to stop the staggering toll of gun violence.

The government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars—$240 million since 1996 alone—researching automobile and traffic safety, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that it saved 366,000 lives from 1975 to 2009. Guns killed more people in the U.S. last year than vehicles, but nothing was spent on research to reduce that toll.

Ross picked up the Dickey mantle and was a NRA point man, the head of the House gun caucus. Two years ago, he led 65 House Democrats in denouncing Attorney General Eric Holder for saying the assault-weapons ban should be reinstated. He introduced a bill to repeal the on semiautomatic guns in the District of Columbia, making it easier for people to get weapons for mass killings.

On his way out two weeks ago, Ross said the Connecticut slaughter had changed his mind and that he now thinks it is ridiculous that people should be able to get high-capacity assault weapons. More than that, he derided the old NRA-encouraged notion that gun control was a foot in the door and that people needed big guns to overthrow a despotic government in Washington. “I think it is time we get beyond that,” he said.

Boy, is it! But tell Cotton and Griffin, who still circulate campaign pictures of themselves in camo with guns. They’re the past and the future.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

  • Anti-gay legislation prompts Human Rights Campaign to run ad in Silicon Valley newspaper

    March 26, 2015
    At a press conference today, Chad Griffin, Arkansas native and president of the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBT advocacy group, announced that his organization will run a full-page ad (see below) in the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley's largest paper, suggesting that Arkansas is closed for business due to HB 1228, the discriminatory, anti-gay measure making its way through the legislature. It could be up for consideration by the Senate today. /more/
  • Mike Preston of Florida tapped as next director of Arkansas Economic Development Commission

    March 25, 2015
    Mike Preston, vice president for Government Relations with Enterprise Florida, is Gov. Asa Hutchinson's choice as the next director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, reports Roby Brock at Talk Business. Preston will be tasked with doling out millions in corporate welfare to bring in and retain businesses in the state. Hutchinson decided not to keep Grant Tennille, who served in the role under Gov. Mike Beebe, on the job. /more/
  • David Burnett flips, letting anti-gay and Ten Commandments bills out of committee

    March 25, 2015
    Bring on the court challenges! Someone or another got to Democratic Sen. David Burnett and he flipped, caving and providing the needed fifth vote to pass a couple of Jerry Cox specials out of committee: HB1228, the so-called "conscience protection" bill from Bob Ballinger which would ensure protection for legal discrimination against gay people and SB939, the bill from Sen. Jason Rapert mandating that the Secretary of State build a monument commemorating the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds. /more/
  • State to misleadingly tell poor Arkansans their health coverage is going away, but that's probably not true

    March 25, 2015
    Rep. Donnie Copeland's silly, cruel, pointless, mean-spirited, misguided bill to send a letter to private option beneficiaries telling them that their health coverage is ending Dec. 31, 2016 passed the House yesterday 81-19. It's on to the governor, who will sign it into law. Has there ever been a more perfect example of lawmakers' yen for meaningless posturing over sensible policymaking? The thing is, Copeland's threat isn't just misleading, it's almost certainly wrong. The private option might get some re-branding, but it's very unlikely that coverage is going away. /more/
  • Rep. Bob Ballinger: let felons have a muzzleloader

    March 25, 2015
    Sometimes my favorite part of bills at this point in the session is just the names. Rep. Bob Ballinger's "An Act to Permit a Person Convicted of a Felony to Possess a Muzzleloader" is set for the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow. /more/
  • Trinity Church, a Walmart shareholder, suing retailer over vote on guns

    March 25, 2015
    Trinity Church, an Episcopal church in lower Manhattan, is challenging the company on its policy around selling guns and has sued the retail behemoth over its refusal to allow a shareholder vote on Trinity's proposal. Briefs are being filed this week with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in a case with implications not just for the issue of gun sales but for corporate governance and shareholder activism. /more/
  • Cruz and Cotton in the country of country

    March 24, 2015
    Tea Partier than thou: When it comes to record collections, Ted Cruz can't keep up with Tom Cotton. /more/
  • Hutchinson: CFCO is issue for Healthcare Task Force, bill's time frame infeasible

    March 24, 2015
    It sounds like Gov. Asa Hutchinson will not be supporting the bill by Rep. Josh Miller (R-Heber Springs) to require the state to clear its eight year waiting list for developmental disabilities waivers. /more/
  • Legislature proceeds with meaningless grandstanding gesture likely to confuse private option beneficiaries

    March 24, 2015
    The Senate yesterday passed Rep. Donnie Copeland's bill to send a letter to everyone enrolled in the private option telling them that "the program will end on December 31, 2016" and "the coverage provided by the program expires on December 31, 2016." In fact, the governor's task force is expressly charged with continuing coverage, so the letter is a meaningless gesture from grandstanding Republicans. It is likely to scare and confuse poor people in Arkansas, but that's just collateral damage. /more/
  • The economic impact of the private option

    March 24, 2015
    The Arkansas private option projects to have an economic impact on the state's gross domestic product of $9.25 billion over ten years and job growth of 8,500 according to a report put out yesterday by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. /more/
  • More »

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Nothing to show for making nice

    I'm at anchor on a ship lying off Grand Turk Island, and I should have known better than to pick up the digital Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, particularly given the painfully slow download time on the ship's satellite Internet. But I did and began a slow burn.
    • Mar 26, 2015
  • A volcanic eruption in the Caribbean: Should Democrats go along?

    A volcanic eruption from the Caribbean: Some Democrat please tell me what's been gained by going along to get along with Republican leadership. A free dinner courtesy of Doyle Webb?
    • Mar 24, 2015
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Cotton speech draws protest

    Protesters greeted Tom Cotton today at an event held by the Foreign Policy Initiative, the neocon think tank founded by Cotton cheerleaders Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, called (of course) "Will Congress provide for the Common Defense? National Security priorities in an increasingly dangerous world."
  • Cruz and Cotton in the country of country

    Tea Partier than thou: When it comes to record collections, Ted Cruz can't keep up with Tom Cotton.
  • Nothing to show for making nice

    I'm at anchor on a ship lying off Grand Turk Island, and I should have known better than to pick up the digital Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, particularly given the painfully slow download time on the ship's satellite Internet. But I did and began a slow burn.
  • Stop presses: Clintons ambitious

    Here are a couple of earthshaking developments: It turns out that Hillary Clinton is obsessed with privacy and that across the years former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers detected ethical failings in other politicians, even friends like Bill and Hillary Clinton.
  • The loss of skepticism

    The manufacture and dissemination of didactic fables pleasing to the viewing audience is what many journalists do. And that's becoming almost as true at MSNBC as at Fox News. Particularly in stories involving race and sex, that is to say, a lot of them.

Most Viewed

  • Anti-gay legislation prompts Human Rights Campaign to run ad in Silicon Valley newspaper

    At a press conference today, Chad Griffin, Arkansas native and president of the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest LGBT advocacy group, announced that his organization will run a full-page ad (see below) in the San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley's largest paper, suggesting that Arkansas is closed for business due to HB 1228, the discriminatory, anti-gay measure making its way through the legislature. It could be up for consideration by the Senate today.
  • Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson peddles fantasy of raping and torturing atheist family

    Oh dear. Paradigm of conservative cultural authenticity, Phil Robertson, patriarch of A&E's "Duck Dynasty," conjured up a gruesome fantasy of the rape and torture of an atheist family in a speech to the Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast, later broadcast on the “Trunews” radio program by host Rick Wiles.
  • Stonewall Democrats condemn gay discrimination bill

    Tippi McCullough, president of the Arkansas Stonewall Democrats, sends along a statement excoriating Arkansas legislators for moving forward on Rep. Bob Ballinger's discriminatory HB 1228. She also notes that Ballinger, who previously said he would debate the merits of HB 1228 in a public forum, hasn't responded to a number of attempts to schedule the debate.
  • David Burnett flips, letting anti-gay and Ten Commandments bills out of committee

    Bring on the court challenges! Someone or another got to Democratic Sen. David Burnett and he flipped, caving and providing the needed fifth vote to pass a couple of Jerry Cox specials out of committee: HB1228, the so-called "conscience protection" bill from Bob Ballinger which would ensure protection for legal discrimination against gay people and SB939, the bill from Sen. Jason Rapert mandating that the Secretary of State build a monument commemorating the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds.
  • House committee OKs bill to create pilot program to drug-test TANF recipients

    The House committee on Public Health this morning voted to pass a bill that would require the Department of Workforce Services to create a pilot program to drug test people who receive benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program, or TANF.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2015 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation