At the bottom of the barrel are those who seek to profit off these national tragedies. That’s where you’ll find Caleb Lee, a veteran huckster who has partnered with WorldNetDaily, Glenn Beck and others to offer anyone with $27 information on how to built a completely untraceable AR-15 assault rifle in the comfort of their own garage.
Lee is the proprietor of undergroundassaultrifle.com, a Virginia-based business whose sole product is a set of videos and do-it-yourself manual which purports to tell purchasers everything they need to know about crafting copies of the assault rifle used recently in massacres in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo.
A self-described “red-blooded American” and proud “capitalist” (not, he emphasizes in his online ad, “a ‘spread the wealth’ socialist like those fools in the Whitehouse for crying out loud”), Lee has partnered with far-right media outfits including the online “news” site WorldNetDaily (WND) and Glenn Beck’s TV network and website, TheBlaze, to promote his new business. As of Thursday evening, WND, whose editors never met a conspiracy theory they didn’t like, featured a link to Lee’s ad on its front page, where it shared space with headlines warning direly of a “Saul Alinsky plot to vilify guns” and speculating that the nasty weather that scuttled plans to hoist a spire to the top of theWorld Trade Center on Monday was sent by an angry God to punish America for abandoning Him.
Beck’s site, meanwhile, featured its own front-page link to Lee’s ad (“See how to get an untraceable AR-15 before it’s banned”), along with a promotion for his upcoming keynote address at this weekend’s National Rifle Association (NRA) convention in Houston, a video about “Obama’s private army,” a think piece on whether the late Ronald Reagan would have supported gay marriage, and a “must-read” item about the “mysterious Jesus-era stone” that’s sparked “major debate among scholars.”
Lee, whose site is emblazoned with WND and TheBlaze’s logos, fits right in. His long-winded ad is replete with references to “crooks and fat cat lobbyists” in Washington, who together with their friends, the “power-hungry anti-gun puppets,” are even now “making serious headway at turning the country against Second Amendment supporters like us.” (“Serious headway”? Last time we checked, about 90% of Americans supported some kind of restriction on gun rights, but the U.S. Senate - which supposedly represents them - couldn’t overcome pressure from the gun lobby to muster the votes necessary to pass the most innocuous of gun control proposals.)
California’s newly proposed gun laws would:
- Ban the possession of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds
- Prevent the future sale, purchase, manufacture, importation, or transfer of any firearms that can accept detachable magazines
- Close the "bullet button" loophole by banning tools that allow the quick changing of gun magazines
- Regulate ammunition sales like the state regulates gun sales. Ammunition dealers would need to be licensed and anyone buying from them would need to obtain a permit and complete a background check.
- Create a 5-cent tax on each bullet purchased, for the purpose of funding crime prevention
- Prevent felons and other adults barred from gun ownership from living in a house that contains any guns
- Prohibit the loaning or sale of a firearm between people who know each other personally
- Take steps to phase out legal possession of assault weapons that were purchased before California outlawed their sale
- Require all firearms owners to take an hours-long gun safety course every year, similar to what the state now requires for obtaining a concealed weapon permit
- Require gun owners to purchase insurance to cover damage they may inflict
- Require CalPERS and CalSTRS, two of the nation's largest pension funds, to divest from companies that make, sell, or market firearms or ammunition
California has already enacted some of the nation’s strictest gun control laws, partly due to its experience with a Sandy-Hook-style massacre: In 1989, a mentally unstable ex-con opened fire with an AK-47-style assault rifle on an elementary school playground in Stockton, killing five schoolchildren and wounding 28 others. The shooting contributed to the passage that year of California’s assault weapons ban.
President Barack Obama has appealed to ordinary Americans to lobby members of Congress over gun control to counter the power of the pro-gun lobby.
In an opinion article written for the Connecticut Post, Obama urged people to ask their politicians “why getting an A-grade from the gun lobby is more important than giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade.”
On Wednesday, Obama laid out a plan to require criminal background checks on all gun sales, ban “military-style” assault weapons, limit magazines to 10 rounds, and strengthen penalties for gun trafficking.
The proposals have provided highly controversial with several sheriffs across the country vowing not to enforce restrictions that could be imposed by Congress or by executive order.
And, in Texas, a lawmaker has authored the Firearm Protection Act, which he says would “make any federal law banning semiautomatic firearms or limiting the size of gun magazines unenforceable within the state’s boundaries.”
In his Connecticut Post article, Obama admitted of his gun-control plans that “none of this will be easy.”
“Already we’re seeing pundits, politicians, and special interest lobbyists warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty — not because it’s true, but because it gins up fear, or higher ratings, or more revenue for themselves,” the president wrote.
“The truth is, there’s only one voice powerful enough to make this happen: yours. If you think we’ve suffered too much pain to allow this to continue, put down the paper, turn off the computer, and get your Members of Congress on record,” he wrote.
Miller’s claim comes in response to a statement by NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, who noted that “bad things happen” as a result of firearm use. Miller compared the defensive gun use statistic, which comes from the discredited research of criminologist Gary Kleck, to the 30,000 gun deaths that occur on average annually in the United States to conclude that firearm use is actually a net social benefit.
Mr. Costas expanded on his theme by saying, “Far more often, bad things happen — including unintentional things — than things where the presence of a gun diminishes or averts danger.” He’s only telling half the story. About 30,000 people are killed by firearms, but guns are are [sic] also used to prevent crimes approximately 2 million times a year.
Kleck’s research, which purports to show that guns are used to prevent millions of crimes each year, is often touted by conservatives in media as evidence for looser regulation of firearms.
But an investigation into his research by Harvard Injury Control Research Center director David Hemenway concluded that Kleck’s study was conducted with “serious methodological deficiencies” leading the self-defense figure to be “an enormous overestimate.” In fact, Hemenway found that the defensive gun use number is so high that it is a mathematical impossibility. If Kleck’s figures are correct, victims of burglaries would have to use a gun to defend themselves over 100 percent of the time.