NRA Silent on Day Before Valentine’s Day Massacres

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Ever notice how quiet the NRA is after a mass shooting?

You’d think that nothing happened in Salt Lake City and Philadelphia on February 13.

That ten people weren’t gunned down in cold blood in public places by previously law abiding armed citizens with the Right to Defend Themselves and Their Families. (Key word: previously)

But of course the NRA has a lot more threats to its agenda than Sulejmen Talovic and Vincent J. Dortch, the respective gunmen.

This month the American Bar Association took the legal wind out of its "Bring Your Gun to Work" campaign sails by resolving that it "supports the traditional property rights of private employers and other private property owners to exclude from the workplace and other private property, persons in possession of firearms or other weapons."

You remember the "Bring Your Gun to Work" campaign!

Eight employees at a Weyerhauser paper mill in Valliant, OK were fired for having guns in their vehicles on a company parking lot in 2002 leading to an Oklahoma law prohibiting property owners and employers from barring anyone except felons from having firearms in locked vehicles in parking lots on their property.

But ConocoPhillips with 3,000 Oklahoma workers wouldn’t drink the Kool-Aid. It noted the two workplace shootings in Mississippi just months after the Weyerhauser incident—seven dead, eight injured—and said you want us to legalize WHAT?, filing a federal lawsuit to block the Oklahoma law which is still in effect.

Nor did gun friendly Florida drink the Kool-Aid. Especially because the Florida version of the parking lot bill covered machine guns in vehicles and even banned churches and hospitals from prohibiting firearms.

"We’re not against the Second Amendment, but guns are inappropriate in our workplaces and workplaces include parking lots. We control those," said Randy Miller, a lobbyist for the Florida Retail Federation which represents 12,000 businesses in the state.

"Possession of firearms in the workplace or on company property is strictly prohibited," said Bruce Middlebrooks of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida which has 7,500 employees in the Jacksonville area. (The Blues no doubt know a little about the costs of treating gun shot wounds.)

And more problems have surfaced in Florida too.

Three major Florida law-enforcement groups and a coalition of police, prosecutors, politicians and parents of children slain by firearms are calling for tightening of eligibility rules for concealed weapon licenses after a January Sun Sentinel expose.

The newspaper found more than 1,400 probable felons in Florida had valid concealed weapon licenses including a man who shot his girlfriend in the head as she cooked breakfast, a pizza deliveryman wanted for fatally shooting a 15-year-old over a stolen order of chicken wings and six registered sex offenders.

But felons need protection too, says the NRA.

"We do not participate in legislation that gratuitously takes away the rights of people because when you begin taking away the rights of people that you don’t like, that’s the slippery slope," said NRA lobbyist Marion P. Hammer.

And there are problems in California too where law makers are trying to sneak legislation through that would help police track gun crime.

Like bills that would give state law enforcement agencies access to a national database of ballistic information–now denied thanks to the gun lobby–and microstamp identifying information on spent shell casings of new semiautomatic handguns.

There’s even a bill requiring a license to sell ammunition.

"It’s much more difficult to actually buy a can of spray paint than it is to buy ammunition," says California Assemblyman Kevin DeLeon who is concerned about gang crime in his district.

Of course there has been a bright note in Georgia where the House of Representatives approved legislation in February that would allow motorists to conceal loaded firearms in their cars.

The bill, which would let people hide guns under seats or wedge them between seat cushions and center consoles, "allows a law-abiding citizen…to place a firearm anywhere in the vehicle that they feel is the safest place for their personal protection, for the protection of their family or passengers in that vehicle,” said the bill’s sponsor State Rep. Tim Bearden.

But others expect more violence not less–and worry about protection FROM the concealed gun drivers.

"This law is just another embarrassing bill passed out of an out of touch Republican legislature catering to good ole boys in South Georgia," wrote a blogger on the Atlantic Journal-Constitution web site. "This bill will result in the senseless murder of many police officers in the line of duty and citizens who are victims of simple road rage incidents that spiral out of control."

(A hundred and two police officers were killed during traffic stops in the U.S. between 1996 and 2005, according to the Department of Justice.)

Still, the biggest threat to the NRA agenda is not from the states at all but from Washington; a President Obama, Clinton or Giuliani in office might just pry Congress out of its cold, dead hands.

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