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After Massacres, US Gun Debate Moves into the Marketplace

After Massacres, US Gun Debate Moves into the Marketplace

by Martha Rosenberg
September 19, 2013

There are few things more extreme than US gun rights advocates. Because gun rights is a 100 percent issue for advocates, driving to state capitals, heckling town meetings and pelting lawmakers with gun paranoia “patriotism” is their fulltime job. By contrast, the majority of American citizens who want sane gun laws also care about the economy, the environment, health care and geopolitics. The result is politicians bought by and afraid, of the gun lobby because that's who they get their most vehement communiqués from.

The power of a few gun extremists was demonstrated last week when Democratic Colorado state senators Angela Giron of Pueblo and John Morse of Colorado Springs were recalled by voters because they backed a package of state gun restrictions. Gun rights advocates were outraged about laws requiring background checks on private gun sales and restricting the size of ammunition magazines even though two of the nation's biggest massacres, which both occurred in Colorado, featured high capacity magazines and lack of background checks.

In Missouri, gun rights advocates almost passed a bill that would nullify federal gun laws and actually create misdemeanor charges against federal authorities enforcing them, also subjecting police and prosecutors to lawsuits. The bill also lowered the age for concealed gun permits to 19 from 21, allowed concealed guns on certain teachers and criminalized publishing the identity of a gun owner. (US gun owners are so afraid to be identified, they issued death threats to employees of a New York newspaper that published public records of their addresses. Don't they say a gun in the house keeps them safe?) Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the clearly unconstitutional law, but lawmakers came close to overriding his veto.

The recalls in Colorado, reactionary Missouri bill and federal lawmakers' refusal to institute universal background checks after 20 first-graders were killed in December have sparked a movement to circumvent lawmakers who are largely seen as gun lobby toadies. This week Starbucks, the US' largest coffee chain, assented to a boycott by National Gun Victims Action Council, begun last year, and "dis-invited" guns in its stores--a huge private sector victory. Other corporate players are following the populist trend because, while the "bark" of US gun rights advocates is loud, their buying power and numbers aren’t.

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