By Dan Gross
A number of years ago, with the election of George W. Bush the gun lobby said, “…we’ll have a President where we work out of their office.” Around that time, in their unchecked euphoria, they launched a big budget advertising campaign with the slogan, “I am the NRA.” The ads featured spokespeople like Tom Selleck and Nolan Ryan with the intent of making the NRA appear folksier, more in touch with the average American. They provided the perfect disguise for their real agenda of opposing strong, sensible gun laws and, ultimately, went on the offensive to pass laws that actually promote and create more violence.
The gun lobby has made it clear that they consider Florida one of their great success stories since the introduction of that campaign — the realization of their vision of just about anyone being able to get a gun and carry it just about anywhere, emboldened by a “shoot first, ask questions later mentality.”
The shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman is a heartbreaking tragedy. But make no mistake, it is not a surprise that it happened in Florida, the NRA’s closest thing to an armed utopia. In fact, much more so than any of the shills they had promoting their agenda in their big budget propaganda campaign, George Zimmerman is the embodiment of the gun lobby and its vision for America.
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George Zimmerman is the NRA.
And now the NRA has made it abundantly clear that their vision is of an America that looks just like Florida, a nation where it’s easy for criminals and dangerous people to get, carry and use guns — a nation without any gun laws, where just about anybody can get a gun and use it anywhere. Their spokespeople use fear, bordering on paranoia to justify flooding our streets with armed and violent people, and the result is more tragedies like Trayvon Martin’s.
The NRA is literally working to promote “George Zimmermans” to carry and use their guns in virtually every state across our nation.
Just days after the Trayvon Martin tragedy, the NRA was working on Capitol Hill to nationalize Florida’s vigilante mentality. The gun lobby has gotten U.S. senators to introduce a bill that will force states like New York with strong gun laws to follow Florida’s model of arming criminals and killers. Led by Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), they call S.B. 2188 the National Reciprocity Act.
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We call it the George Zimmerman Armed Vigilante Act.
S.B. 2188, which is a companion to H.B. 822, would allow the tens of thousands of concealed carry permit holders, such as those with violent backgrounds similar to Zimmerman’s, to take their guns and their “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality into Times Square, downtown Los Angeles, Main Street in, Des Moines, Iowa, or to your community.
If your state has tougher, more sensible laws, that might prevent someone like George Zimmerman – who had an arrest record – from getting a concealed carry permit, tough luck. This new bill would force your state to honor concealed carry permits of other states, even states like Florida, with abhorrently low standards.
In fact, you can get a Florida permit to carry loaded, hidden guns in public through the mail or online. This means, if the NRA has its way in Congress, a George Zimmerman in your state can get a Florida permit without leaving his couch and walk your streets, armed and dangerous, and there is nothing you or your local law enforcement can do about it.
It is time that the American people stand up and flatly reject the gun lobby’s vision of America. It is time we replace it with our own vision of a nation where young people can go out to buy a pack of Skittles and a soda in safety.
As the citizens’ lobby, as the voice of the overwhelming majority of Americans who support this vision, we will work tirelessly to bring that voice to bear – to hold accountable any politician who puts the agenda of the gun lobby ahead of the safety of the people they have been elected to represent. We will force the gun lobby and the politicians who work against the agenda of the American people to face the real consequences of their actions – consequences like the Trayvon Martin tragedy and the tens of thousands of other preventable deaths that occur every year.
George Zimmerman is the NRA. We need to stop the George Zimmermans. We can begin by making our voices heard to defeat the George Zimmerman Armed Vigilante Act.