Thursday, May 3, 2018


We hear about guns -- golly, everyday -- accidents, murders, killings -- all types of people using guns. Many of us think of the NRA as fearfully powerful fanatics, who are totally against any sort of controls in the manufacturing, selling, buying, and using guns. How did the NRA begin and evolve into what it is today?

In 1871, two civil war veterans -- a NY Times reporter, and a Union General who wanted to improve the shooting abilities of the average Union soldier -- got together to improve hunting and marksmanship.

After the prohibition era, they backed our country's first gun laws. In 1934 and 1938 the National Firearms Act placed high taxes and restrictions on machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and silencers, prohibited felons from owning weapons, and required owners of guns to register. At that time, the NRA Vice President said, "I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I think it should be sharply restricted, and only under licenses."

After Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated JFK in 1963, the NRA backed the banning of mail-order sales. When the Black Panther Party marched, carrying shotguns and rifles, NRA supported legislation that prohibited "open carry" (carrying weapons in public places.) Ronald Reagan, (President at that time), said, "There's no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons." In 1968, after the assassinations of MLK and RFK, Congress passed the Gun Control Act of 1968, that imposed various restrictions, including shipping of guns across state lines.

In 1968 the NRA blocked the formation of a national registry and law requiring gun owners to hold a license. In 1971, federal agents shot and paralyzed a longtime NRA member, Kenyon Ballew during a gun raid on his home. The night of May 21, 1977, called "The revolt at Cincinnati," the old guard was ousted, and the new Executive Vice President, Harlon Carter, who was serving time for killing a Mexican teenager, established the new approach: "No compromise, No gun legislation." That was when the NRA became so strong that that no politician would challenge it.

The NRA began grading politicians. Those with better grades were given campaign money. When Senator Bob Dole complained, the NRA adopted the motto, "The Right of the People to Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed Upon," and got deeply into culture wars fueled by Waco-inspired conspiracy theories. Each piece of gun legislation drove NRA members to the ballot box.

By 2000, new NRA President, Charlton Heston was challenging Democratic  nominee, Al Gore, to pry Heston's gun "from my cold dead hands."

Gore lost the election. 
Fortune Magazine named the NRA most powerful lobbying group in Washington.

(I've loved actor Charlton Heston's work in many films. That he gave his heart and soul to this organization continues to pain me.)

Led by current Executive Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, the NRA continues to be hugely influential. In 2013 after Sandy Hook shootings, the NRA, blocked congressional efforts to pass background check amendments.

NRA bolsters its funds with million dollar donations from 22 different gun makers -- about $50 million last year -- also the NRA also makes $1 from every purchase. There are now 4 million members. The NRA portrays itself as protecting the freedom of individual gun owners, but it seems to be protecting the freedom of the gun industry to manufacture and sell every weapon accessory. Many members today, unmoved by the stories about the early leaders support for gun control, say, "That was then. Now is now."

Here are pictures of D.C. on March 24, 2018, the Students "March To Save Our Lives."

I say and chant, sing, shout and pray--"THAT WAS THEN.  NOW IS NOW."

Sunday, April 29, 2018


What is it? Where is it? What time is it according to the Doomsday clock?

Guys, it's 2 minutes to midnight. Midnight is the symbolic hour of the apocalypse.
Whoa, golly, there's so many seriously terrifying things happening that are harmful to the earth and mankind -- why do we need to know about this?

Maybe we don't.  Probably we do.

Back in 1947, the likelihood of a man-made global catas-trophe was investigated and publicized by a select group of globally recognized leaders, called the Science and Security Bulletin, (SASB). They put out a bulletin telling us it was 7 minutes to midnight.

The SASB guys -- each an impressively qualified, renown top expert with specific focus on nuclear risk, climate change, and the various emerging technologies -- provide the Bulletin with objective perspective on issues. They set the hands of the clock. While meeting regularly with their sub-committees, they author statements, and give advice at public events in broadcasting, and in media outlets.

Over the years, SASB has set the clock backward and forward 22 times. The smallest-ever number was 2 minutes to midnight in 1953 and now in 2018. The largest, safest time was 1991, when it was 17 minutes to midnight.

The members include Nobel Prize Winners, foremost authorities in cyber-security, nuclear policy and environmental science. Right now, alarmed by nuclear tensions in Korea, Iran, Syria using poison gas, and the unpredictability of our president, they are very worried.

The Boston Globe said, "They are overreacting," and reminds readers, "We are not closer than we were during the cold war when America and Soviets had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. The clock is a public relations device, not a calculation of real world probabilities. It does no one service by exaggerating and over-simplifying the risks we are taking.", a technology news organization, publishes announcements, feature stories, product reviews, and podcasts that examine how technology changes the way we live. Praising the 2 minutes to midnight announcement, Verge said, "It's a gimmick we need -- it gets people talking about urgent issues facing humanity, whether it is rising oceans, killer robots, or nuclear destruction." says, "Good luck with that. It underscores just how numb Americans have gotten to the daily deluge of disturbing headlines from melting ice caps to Russians election hacking to ongoing military building in Korea. So when a board of experts tells them that catastrophe is at hand, they read the news and think, "Yep," then, they wonder, "What's for lunch?"

Guys, writing this, thinking about the clock is helping me adjust my heavy-duty, daily-nightly worrying because "2 minutes" gets people all the world worrying, including millions of American voters as well as the Dems and Repubs in Congress, and galvanizes big actions, as well as little actions like my posting these pictures.