#parkland

Turning the weapon of free speech on themselves (again)

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Activism clearly annoys Americans. David Hogg, of Parkland, Florida fame proved for a second time that Americans are sick and tired of being lectured to. What we can deduce is that many citizens with a pulse are revulsed by senseless crime but do not take nicely to being berated over expressing individual consumption choices based on the subjective views of others much less roll over and cede constitutional rights .

First, labeling innocent, law abiding  NRA members as “hav[ing] blood from children splattered all over their face”  led to a huge surge in memberships for the group since Hogg’s remarks.

Second, Fox host Laura Ingraham lost nearly 30 advertisers since Hogg’s boycott against her show launched on March 29, after her unnecessary remarks pointed at him for failing to get into several colleges. It turns out that data compiled by a media watchdog shows a jump from 2.23 million viewers prior to Mr. Hogg’s campaign to 2.7 million since her return from a vacation. Even liberal host Bill Maher defended Ingraham while censuring Hogg for dishing it but not taking it.

If Americans believe in their deep conscience that guns have no place in their society or Laura Ingraham is an insensitive brute, NRA membership and Fox viewership during her time slot would drift of their own accord and corporations could make business decisions ruled by fact rather than inaccurate I’ll-informed guesstimates of kneejerk reaction.

What has been exposed is yet more of the corporate hypocrisy seen since Nov 2016.

Moves by sporting goods store Dick’s to ban AR sales and raise the age limit to 21yo looked sensible from the outside. However it had multiple massacres over decades to make that call. The current CEO has been in charge since 1984. Why the u-turn in his conscience? Indeed the company did temporarily suspend sales of ARs after Sandy Hook in 2012 but kept retailing them at the company’s Field & Stream outlets before selling them again at Dick’s. If one looks at its website one can still buy a pump-action shotgun. Not very consistent.

Surely  if Dick’s feels so strongly about gun control perhaps it should stop selling them period. 95% of firearm related murders are committed with handguns. Statistically they’d be better off banning sales of pistols.  There are 50,000 (mostly individual) gun stores in the US who will gladly sell ARs to customers. One seriously doubts that Bob’s Guns in West Virginia will cut off his nose to spite his face until the law forces him too!

According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, murders in US appear to be very concentrated: 54% of US counties (representing 11% of the population) in 2014 had zero murders, 2% of counties made up 51% of the murders, ironically in states with the strictest gun controls – Illinois, NY and California.

The lesson for activists is simple – until they begin to engage in debate using fact rather than look to boycotts to shut it down they should look forward to yet further failures in pushing their agenda. By thinking they can score a bullseye for controlling societal moods, they’re  inadvertently turned the weapon of free speech on themselves .

Who is bullying who?

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For all of the sanctimonious actions of the left can we be surprised by the surge of American citizens rushing to protect their constitutional rights? NRA members being labeled criminals and having blood on their hands by a bunch of kids shows how the loss of the lives of 17 youths has turned into a sick political circus. NRA members have not been responsible for any mass shoootings. Anyone with a pulse knows how sick mass shootings are. No one doubts the trauma caused. No one wants gun violence, least of all the NRA. It is never in their interests to have a shooting. Period.  Most people outside America can’t fathom why anyone needs a gun. Yet the adults corralling these kids are only too happy to back their martyrdom. They should know better than to use children this way.

Since the march on Washington we’ve seen defacto spokesman David Hogg be outed for lying where he was at the time of the shooting. He led the speeches, threw his defiant salute at the end and got the media’s praise. What wasn’t covered by the mainstream media was the fact that he hung up on the office of the White House in the middle of a call ahead of the event which showed his immaturity then allowed his fame to get the better of him by rattling off an expletive laden rant – “Sadly, that’s what we have to do with our government because our parents don’t know how to use a f***ing democracy so we have to do it.”

Hogg totally ignored the facts that could have prevented the tragedy. He glossed over the fact that automatic rifles account for less than 3% of firearm deaths. He overlooked the fact that 10% of schools in America have metal detectors and almost half have drug sniffer dogs. No words about the surge in single parent households and all of the psychological knock on effects of that. Of course it is the NRA’s fault as he aptly described them, “…The pathetic f***ers that want to keep killing our children, they could have blood from children splattered all over their faces and they wouldn’t take action because they all still see those dollar signs…”

Cuban flag bearing student Emma Gonzalez admitted she’d bullied the shooter Nikolas Cruz.  Yet adults around the world celebrate their bravery. The Democrats even had voter registration booths to take advantage of a day which was supposed to be about one thing – gun control. One Parkland survivor, Kyle Kashuv, showed how gun control is but a small part of the problem. In his view bullying of outcasts, single parent households and the 78 glaring oversights by the FBI and law enforcement over several years which might have prevented the tragedy are far bigger issues. Yet the media gives it next to no airtime.

Take cyber bullying stats from the Association of Psychological Science in the US. In 2015 more than 16,000 young people were absent from school daily because of bullying. 83% of young people say cyber bullying has a negative impact on their self-esteem. 30% of young people have gone on to self-harm as a result of cyberbullying. 10% of young people have attempted to commit suicide as a result of cyberbullying. People who have been bullied are at greatest risk for health problems in adulthood, over six times more likely to be diagnosed with a serious illness, smoke regularly, or develop a psychiatric disorder compared to those not involved in bullying. In the US alone, suicides per 100,000 head of population since 2000 are up 38% according to WHO.

There is no problem with protesting under the guise of free speech provided it is done respectfully and with fact. This whole episode completely dismisses the dead kids and pushes an activist agenda. The media is just as shameful. One can be pretty certain that if the NRA was able to have reasoned debates on solutions a far better outcome would occur than openly outing innocent civilians as silent killers.

The idea of possessing a gun is irrational to CM but the growing trend of trying to shut down open debate, free speech and demonization if innocent people is a growing trend around the world.

Stopping school massacres in the playground

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While kids around America plan to walkout of school to protest for tighter gun control, one sensible police department is putting up this sign. Looking back over school massacres it should not have escaped anyone that the perpetrators are generally the ones that feel betrayed, left out, ignored, bullied or the subject of mockery on social media. In every school such things take place. We’ve all seen the bully and the weakling at play. The “Nigel no friends” taunts.

CM has pointed out the growing rate of single parent households (generally the father) is 40% in the white community and 70% in the black community. Psychological studies have shown boys seem to be more impacted by the lack of a father in the house than do girls. In many cases the perpetrators of these school massacres have had unstable family backgrounds. So these are the kids that are likely dealing with inner feelings of despair and struggling to understand how their place in the world works. Throw bullying on top of this and the feelings of revenge fester, sadly in ways that sometimes end up in Parkland tragedies.

Therefore as much as these kids feel aggrieved and angered enough to march and beat up on politicians, the NRA, it’s members and sponsors perhaps this meme of #walkupnotout is the real lesson that will go far further than banning guns outright to prevent such disasters in the future. These kids who are willing to make a plan over months and years to get their subjective justice won’t stop just because they can’t lay their hands on a firearm. Cars, knives, bomb making or any other means will still be available to them.

So to David Hogg and his fellow student activists don’t forget that to prevent further such atrocities perhaps the most powerful weapon to disarm is actually yourselves taking a step to befriend the outcasts you know exist.

NRA membership searches up 4900%

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At the time media outlets went all guns blazing on the National Rifle Association (NRA), CM warned that it most likely would cause a knee jerk reaction in the opposite direction. We speculated that the hike in membership fee likely reflected a surge in members. As tragic as the Parkland shooting massacre was, CM said that ‘shaming’ NRA members en masse would only make them dig in deeper. As it turns out searches for NRA membership has surged 4900% since Feb 14. People are sick and tired of being bullied into feeling guilty about things they haven’t caused.

CM also mentioned that FedEx had the right approach by not giving in to open threats by student David Hogg calling people to boycott brands who supported the NRA. FedEx openly made their position on guns known but said they aren’t in the business of ramming their politics down the throats of others. Allowing individuals to make personal choices is always better than beating them into submission on any issue.

Many other corporates looked utterly hypocritical in cowtowing to this social pressure. The NRA members to date have undoubtedly served corporate interests well for all the right reasons of profitability. Is it any wonder honest members are upset to have sanctimonious corporate apparatchiks give them unsolicited lectures on responsibility?

Moves by sporting goods stores like Dick’s to ban AR sales and raise the age limit to 21yo looked sensible from the outside. However they had multiple massacres over decades to make that call. The current CEO has been in charge since 1984. Why the u-turn in his conscience? Indeed the company did temporarily suspend sales of ARs after Sandy Hook in 2012 but kept retailing them at the company’s Field & Stream outlets before selling them again at Dick’s. If one looks at its website one can still buy a pump-action shotgun. Not very consistent.

Surely  if Dick’s feels so strongly about gun control perhaps it should stop selling them period. 95% of firearm related murders are committed with handguns. Statistically they’d be better off banning sales of pistols.  There are 50,000 (mostly individual) gun stores in the US who will gladly sell ARs to customers. One seriously doubts that Bob’s Guns in West Virginia will cut off his nose to spite his face until the law forces him too!

According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, murders in US appear to be very concentrated: 54% of US counties (representing 11% of the population) in 2014 had zero murders, 2% of counties made up 51% of the murders, ironically in states with the strictest gun controls – Illinois, NY and California.

The failure to communicate is obvious. Progressives believe that pointing fingers will win the day. Shaming, boycotting and vilifying the very people they wish to convince to put in place more common sense gun laws are given no voice. So the deplorables exercise their voice by doing the exact opposite and signing up in droves to protect what they perceive is the open theft of their freedoms.

As mentioned in earlier posts, ignoring the state of kids growing up in broken homes, surging drug abuse and onerous political correctness being driven through the school system by creating a scapegoat in the NRA only reinforces the rift to reaching any workable solution.

So more hearty congratulations to the left. Until they begin to engage in the debate rather than shut it down look forward to yet further failures in pushing their agenda. God gave us two ears and one mouth so we would listen more and talk less. By thinking the gun debate would be a bullseye for control, they’ve inadvertently turned the weapon on themselves.

FedEx gives a lesson in corporate communications over the NRA

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CM wrote earlier in the week on the hypocrisy of corporates disassociating themselves from the NRA after the Parkland, Florida school shooting despite having decades of similar incidences to have done it. Yet their conscience never got the better of them because targeting  5,000,000 members was good for business. FedEx on the other hand has made it clear on its position with respect to gun control. Despite that it will continue to provide a service and will not be bullied, coerced or cave into activism to target members who did not commit a crime. Good on FedEx for making it clear where they stand rather than cower to social media pressure.

The adolescent media spokesman of choice, David Hogg, made very clear that he wants to hold a proverbial gun to the head of every corporate to ditch the NRA. FedEx and Amazon were also singled out as targets by the Florida student for continuing to offer discounts to the NRA. He even threatened to cancel his Amazon TV subscription because it broadcast NRATV. It is absolutely his choice to make. By all means Mr Hogg can vote however he chooses with his wallet. He should extend the same courtesy.

No one is questioning or trivializing the trauma of such a tragic event but the constant hunt to ‘shame’ people (who’ve done nothing illegal) always ends up causing those ‘shamed’ to do the opposite of the intended strategy. Many corporates could have followed FedEx’s lead. Shouldn’t it be up to individuals to freely consider whether they want to fly United, rent a Hertz car or send packages via FedEx? It is absolutely their choice to do. Most people are thinking of the function of the service at the time, not conduct pre-flight checks on whether the company has an affiliation with the NRA or any other group disliked by others.

If people are honestly abhorred by any corporate that offers discounts to the NRA then they will naturally adjust consumption patterns. 19 years since Columbine would suggest most corporates didn’t care and saw no appreciable impact to revenues by staying with the NRA. Consumers do not require people bashing them over the head to swallow a message they may already agree with or not. Surely observing the actions of those exercising unbridled volition is a superior barometer of mood over issues rather than force feeding.

Does David Hogg think he will win over NRA members by slapping them on his Twitter feed? Does Hogg seriously believe that slamming the president by branding him a coward and a draft dodger on social media will turn him, especially given his track record? If he wished to gain traction he would go far further asking to meet with Trump in the White House with his school mates and lay out a comprehensive plan to try get some leverage on the NRA. It may be a futile exercise but if he wants to show the moral high ground and win over the masses (the mainstream media would only be too happy to oblige) then acting in a manner which shows that he embodies that spirit will have a far better chance of converting others.

It will be interesting to see whether the NRA sees a surge in membership on the back of being attacked in this way. Earlier this week, a yearly membership was $30, Today it is $40. Could it be the hike is on the back of overwhelming support? Surely a club that is hemorrhaging members would be cutting prices to stay afloat.

The group published a membership recruitment drive which was viewed over 10 million times this week. The idea that all of the members at the NRA are deranged gun-toting lunatics incapable of listening to sensible suggestions is quite an accusation but often made. This was its response to those corporates that dumped it:

NRA STATEMENT ON CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS

(FAIRFAX, VA) – The more than five million law-abiding members of the National Rifle Association have enjoyed discounts and cost-saving programs from many American corporations that have partnered with the NRA to expand member benefits.

Since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, a number of companies have decided to sever their relationship with the NRA, in an effort to punish our members who are doctors, farmers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, nurses, shop owners and school teachers that live in every American community. We are men and women who represent every American ethnic group, every one of the world’s religions and every form of political commitment.

The law-abiding members of the NRA had nothing at all to do with the failure of that school’s security preparedness, the failure of America’s mental health system, the failure of the National Instant Check System or the cruel failures of both federal and local law enforcement.

Despite that, some corporations have decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice. In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve.

Let it be absolutely clear. The loss of a discount will neither scare nor distract one single NRA member from our mission to stand and defend the individual freedoms that have always made America the greatest nation in the world.

Having said all of the above, the voting down of a tax break for Delta Airlines by the Senate in the State of  Georgia which openly admitted that it was punishment for cutting sponsorship ties with the NRA was no less juvenile. No doubt many might view this as the NRA cashing in on favours for all those donations. Whether they played a direct hand is not determined. This is the political class trivializing sensitive matters. Cut Delta’s support for the right reasons but not because it made a commercial decision, no matter how daft the reasoning.

While we should be reflecting on the memories of 17 students that died from senseless gun violence and how to ensure it doesn’t happen again, we see that Mr Hogg and others believe that holding a metaphorical gun to peoples’ heads is the way to fix the problem. It is a sad lesson for society today. Sensible debate can’t be had with threats of coercion or aggression. Introducing ‘common sense’ gun laws requires compromise and the freedom to express opinions, no matter how absurd. All this threatening behaviour sends either party to the debate to the opposite side of the room.

Ridding the country of guns and taking homicides to zero would be a Utopian dream. That is a matter for voters to get the law changed. The irony is that tighter gun laws could have been pushed through under the Obama administration, which had majorities in the lower and upper houses. It didn’t. Clearly Democrats didn’t view it as a priority at the time.

N.B. CM is not debating the rights and wrongs of the NRA’s activity or their positions. None-the-less the fact it has 5 million members shows that it has a following and is well organized. Were it a complete crackpot organization then people would be leaving it in droves. Seems like the opposite is occurring. That would probably be a factor for so many corporates signing up in the first place. FedEx hasn’t forgotten that. It is hard not to agree with the way it handled the debate – We dislike your views on guns but we observe the legal rights surrounding them. CM congratulates FedEx for its candor on the matter.

Murder rates in the US – 2% of counties make up 51% of murders

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According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, murders in US appear to be very concentrated: 54% of US counties (representing 11% of the population) in 2014 had zero murders, 2% of counties made up 51% of the murders, ironically in states with the strictest gun controls – Illinois, NY and California The worst 1% of counties which represent around 19% of the population were responsible for 37% of gun deaths. The worst 5% of counties (containing 47% of the population) accounted for 68% of murders. From 1977 to 2000, on average 73% of counties in any given year had zero murders. Perhaps goes some way in explaining why the NRA is so touchy about ‘epidemic’ gun crime waves across the country. Indeed the NRA’s website is littered with examples of gun owners thwarting carjackings, home invasions and other robberies. The aforementioned figures do not hide that the US has the 5th highest homicide rate amongst developed countries.

 

Gun makers or Drug makers? Who should we be more afraid of?

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One by one, more of Corporate America is shunning the National Rifle Association (NRA). There is a touch of irony, perhaps hypocrisy about these moves. For a long time it has served rental car agencies, United Airlines and credit card companies to show their support for the NRA as its membership base was credibly large that it was ‘good for business.’ Despite dozens of massacres after the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 why did they not shun the NRA in the last 19 years? Why didn’t the 14 gun massacres under Obama where Democrats had a majority in the House and Senate cause them to ban guns or automatic rifles period? Now all of a sudden corporates have woken up from their wistful slumber to realize that supporting the NRA may no longer be appropriate “in moving with the times”, the very phrase which is used to silence debate. In the process these corporates pillory all members of an association that in the overwhelming majority of cases are law abiding citizens.

Let’s make it clear. CM is no fan of guns. CM is a fan of laws. A fan of democracy that lets people vote on issues such as this. Changing the constitution is in most countries a matter for the people to decide, not just the handful of politicians within the walls of law making. CM doesn’t need a gun. CM doesn’t want a gun. CM, like most reading this can’t understand why one would want to massacre innocent people with a gun. However we’ve stated clearly that banning guns won’t fix the problem in America. One could easily drive a car through a school campus and mow down dozens of kids during play time. Do we ban cars? The two students who carried out the Columbine massacre had handgrenades, pipe bombs and propane time bombs. While guns were the sole cause of the 15 deaths, these kids had intended to murder 100s in the commons area with the bombs (which were made from everyday off the shelf items).

Although when United Airlines starts taking the moral high ground with respect to the NRA after its own scandals of heavy handedly frog marching passengers off its aircraft it isn’t worth listening to. If these corporates could openly say that running NRA discounts was not worth it on economic grounds in terms of the administration in running such programs one could understand. If they made rational decisions that showed their business would fall of a cliff by supporting the NRA one could understand. It hasn’t happened in 20 years, so why now? If one chooses to fly United for whatever reason (convenience, price, family emergency) will they stop flying it in fear of association with the NRA might be bad for their image? Does the average American, where there are as many guns as people, think ill of the NRA? 32% of US households own guns. Are 32% of households unhinged lunatics? Granted the NRA does itself  little favors in the PR department after such tragedies.

As we’ve written in recent days, the growing incidence of broken homes and the surge in the dispensing of antidepressants to ‘tranquilize’ those who might be tempted into suicidal or homicidal tendencies is a worrying trend. Pharma companies are expected to mint $17bn in antidepressants by 2020.  Should we spurn Eli Lilly’s over-the-counter drugs because they are the evil corporates milking billions from Prozac?

To put it into perspective the total number of overdose deaths involving heroin from 2002 to 2015 jumped 6.2-fold in the US. Automobiles killed around 32,000 people last year or a little over 2x that of heroin overdoses. When adding non-methadone opioids (illicit fentanyl) overdose that number surged to 20,000, a 33% YoY jump on 2014 and 5.9x 2002. Why is it happening? The problem for many prescription painkiller users is that once their bottle ends, the addiction doesn’t stop meaning many switch to heroin to get the same ‘opioid’ hit.

Excessive use of pain relievers make up a large proportion of illicit drug use. Oxycodone is one of the more common type of opiate pain killer and it is highly addictive. In 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required the formulation of OxyContin be changed to make it harder to become addicted to. Talk about loading patients with too much ammunition.

As opioid overdoses rise, companies such as Adapt Pharma have seen sharp rises in the sales of products like Narcan (Naloxone) which basically revives victims from the dead. Narcan publicizes its price that is even insured meaning one can overdose and revive with a $10 co-payment.

94% of insured lives in the US have coverage for NARCAN® Nasal Spray*. According to IMS Health, nearly three quarters (74%) of prescriptions for NARCAN® Nasal Spray have a co-pay of $10 or less**. For those paying cash, ADAPT Pharma has partnered with retail pharmacies to reduce out of pocket costs (Retail is $62.50/dose)…To expand community access, NARCAN® Nasal Spray is available to all qualified group purchasers for $37.50 per 4mg dose ($75 per carton of 2 doses). This pricing is available for all Qualified Group Purchasers, such as first responders (EMS, Fire Department, Police), community organizations and Departments of Health, regardless of size. This pricing represents a 40% discount off the Wholesale Acquisition Cost (WAC) of $125 per carton.”

Price hikes have been a feature of naloxene. As of January 2015, Amphastar’s version of naloxone was up to $41 a dose, according to Fierce Pharma, a pharmaceutical industry news website. That follows a price increase from $17 to $33 a dose back in October 2014, according to data provided by Truven Health Analytics. So not only is volume spiking, so is price. Walgreens has expanded the availability of prescription-free naloxone to 33 states.

West Virginia health officials are responding to opioid overdoses by distributing more than 8,000 kits with Naloxone that can get people breathing again if administered in time. Money for the kits comes from a $1 million federal grant to West Virginia, which has had the nation’s highest rate of overdose deaths at 41.5/100,000 people.

Local emergency medical services agencies in West Virginia administered 4,186 doses of Naloxone in 2016, up from 3,351 the year before and 2,165 two years ago and that data doesn’t include uses by hospital emergency departments, urgent care centers, first responders and family members.

The gun industry in America is around $11 billion. 35,000 work in the manufacture of guns and ammo. There are 50,000 retailers in the US. 32% of American households possess a firearm. One-third. The federal government collects $132 million in taxes on guns. 17 million background checks for gun purchases are conducted annually.

By all means let’s have common sense debates on regulation surrounding guns. Sending memes of Republicans on the payroll of the NRA can be met with as many Democrats accepting fortunes from the pharmaceutical lobby so as to prevent price cuts being driven through Congress. While guns maybe noisy killers, pharmaceutical companies are  in a sense becoming (or already become) stealthy silent assassins. Their drugs causing patients to switch to harder substances. 13% of adolescents are on antidepressants. Thirteen percent. 68% of them have taken antidepressants for 2 years and a quarter for over a decade,

The tragedy of school shootings is awful in every conceivable way. How it tears families apart, destroys the lives of survivors who must cope with unspeakable trauma and creates a platform for such horrid knee jerk responses in all forms of media. How the loss of 17 lives takes a back seat to agendas which feed the very opposite of the intention they proclaim. Corporates joining the bandwagon only fuel mixed messaging. It is exactly the type of ‘shaming’ that was so prevalent at the time of the election.

Trying to get the NRA to come around to spreading the word amongst its members that banning bump stocks and certain weapons is feasible won’t occur when corporates and the media publicly kick them. It is never an easy discussion but it only makes members want to dig their trenches deeper. Do people honestly believe that all NRA members would reject common sense proposals about screening, age limits and certain weapons restrictions? Yet that is the picture that is painted. They’re lunatics to a man, woman and child. Let’s hope that United Airlines and others that have spurned the NRA now turn to the drugs list in the company health provider to ensure that those pharmaceutical companies behind so many of the deaths from the explosive concoctions they sell are dealt with in the same way. Here’s a prediction. That hasn’t crossed their minds. So much for pharma companies saving lives. They are cashing in as a growing number of patients check out.