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Gun nut stages coup at FreedomWorks


Richard K. Armey, the group’s chairman and a former House majority leader, walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: The gun-wielding assistant escorted FreedomWorks’s top two employees off the premises, while Armey suspended several others who broke down in sobs at the news.

Wowsers. So that's how it works in Washington these days?

The coup lasted all of six days. By Sept. 10, Armey was gone — with a promise of $8 million — and the five ousted employees were back. The force behind their return was Richard J. Stephenson, a reclusive Illinois millionaire who has exerted increasing control over one of Washington’s most influential conservative grass-roots organizations.

Stephenson, the founder of the for-profit Cancer Treatment Centers of America and a director on the FreedomWorks board, agreed to commit $400,000 per year over 20 years in exchange for Armey’s agreement to leave the group.

The episode illustrates the growing role of wealthy donors in swaying the direction of FreedomWorks and other political groups, which increasingly rely on unlimited contributions from corporations and financiers for their financial livelihood.

So, Armey successfully extorted $400,000 from Stephenson? Is that how it works in Washington these days? Because Freedom!

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danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

I love how they have this swaggering confidence when it comes to walking around with their compensation for their small penises, but when it comes to being publicly named as a gun nut they completely lose their shit.

Submitted by lambert on

... of foul-mouthed bloggers of the left? While I find the reaction of the gun nuts/advocates/owners funny, nevertheless I don't like what the newspaper did, for the same reason I don't like "outing" people.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

Well, I pretty much accepted my personal info could end up out there when I started blogging. And I've always treated my identity as basically a poorly concealed secret; if you want to find it, it's not that hard. My full name is on my site twice - including the main page. My email has my real name, I've uploaded YT videos of me speaking, identified the small town I live in...if someone wanted to build a dossier on me it wouldn't be hard.

This is part of the whole "public in the internet age" debate. If you have a mortgage, your SS# is on it and that is a public record - but you have to go to the local courthouse to get it. It's not like you can look it up online. Should it be? It's public. We have to hash through all that.

What makes this funny for me is that unlike, say, receiving food stamps or having a mortgage, gun owners are very vocal about how awesome their gun ownership is, so it would seem to be not the least problematic for them to advertise it to the whole world, right? Let the criminals show up and eat lead.

Bonus fun: seeing them claim a right to privacy, an idea the right has endlessly ridiculed over the years.

Submitted by lambert on

A "poorly kept secret" is exactly it. Still, that doesn't mean I want all the poorly kept secrets exposed in a single place on a handy map.

* * *

Yes, the schadenfreude on the gun nuts, but also, perhaps, a self-indulgence with bad consequences.

Submitted by YesMaybe on

First, you use (in your earlier comment in this thread) 'gun nut' to refer to everyone who has a pistol permit. Good work! Of course, 40-50% of US households include a gun, but who cares about that?

Second, you equate gun owners with 'the right' and presumably being pro-life (is that what you meant by the right to privacy they ridicule? Because they don't ridicule the 4th amendment per se). Good work again! Cause no one who is pro-choice ever owned a gun!

P.S. With the site upgrade, the previous thread got cut off. Will you now admit that the supposed 17% reduction in gun crime which you wanted me to address was a baloney claim? (I pointed out in the previous thread that the report didn't say that where you think it did--you just misread it)

Submitted by YesMaybe on

Here is the report:

Look on p. 2, with the report's numbering, not the pdf's, (which is where you pointed me to), at the sentence that starts "Following implementation of the ban, the share of gun crimes involving AWs declined by 17% to 72% across the localities examined for this study". And remember that you claimed it was saying the law led to a 17% reduction in gun crime (not, as it says, the share of gun crimes involving AWs).

Submitted by lambert on

Gun nut. n. One whose self-actualization depends on owning, discharging, or fondling handling firearms.

Self actualization being at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy (unilke, say, life).

* * *

This definition may be helpful in distinguishing between the over-lapping but not identical classes of gun nuts, gun advocates, and gun owners.

* * *

It's clear that not all gun owners or advocates are gun nuts. It's also equally clear that the collectively, gun [nuts|advocates|owners] won the culture wars; what's the number of guns in circulation? Something like 200 million? I doubt we're ever going to get them back in the box. It's also clear that collectively, those gun [nuts|advocates|owners] who funded the NRA had some (not all) responsibility for winning the culture war they indeed sought to win.

So, two questions:

1) Where does the militarization stop? Boxer just suggested putting the National Guard into the schools. Do you support this? What happens when the National Guard gets outgunned, as they will?

2) Why not just say that externalities are acceptable? All policies have externalities, some lethal. So why not just say that if the outcome of Second Amendment Rights (as defined by Scalia) is the occasional massacre, that this is an acceptable price to pay?

NOTE I think I understand wuming's argument on a disarmed populace, but I also think that if gun [nuts|advocates|owners] were serious about the argument that only they, as armed populace, could protect the country from tyranny, they would have long since done something, anything about it, say after the Patriot Act, or the NDAA, and certainly by the time of the "kill list." So it's all rationalization. (I don't advocate this, but if you accept the often very eloquent framing, gun [nuts|advocates|owners] have long since failed the test they themselves have set.)

Submitted by YesMaybe on

Well, I personally feel safer in an environment with less guns. And, no, I don't support sending the national guard or armed guards or whatever to schools. And my view regarding such massacres is pretty close to the WSWS article on Columbine.

In the previous thread I was merely making a factual point that a law such as the 1994 automatic weapons ban could not be expected to have effects significant enough to measure, based on the NRC and the DOJ NIJ studies of the 1994's law's effects. I brought it up because that was the 'common sense' policy danps proposed there. In response, danps made an entirely false claim which I was expected to address. I pointed out I thought the claim (about the 17% reduction) was baloney, and when danps clarified the source of the claim I pointed out that that was misreading the report's very clear language (which to me suggests danps is suffering from terrible confirmation bias on this topic, to the point of misreading clear language and ignoring blatant contradictions).

BTW, lambert, are you still planning on getting the last week of posts from the old to the site?

Submitted by YesMaybe on

For the sake of preciseness, let me acknowledge that danps was not proposing exactly the 1994 law, but rather something like it but without grandfathering of weapons and ammo already out there. However, and as I pointed out, the central reason the 1994 law didn't have much of an effect (the fact, explained in the report, that automatic weapons are only used in a tiny percentage of gun crimes in the first place) would apply to this proposal as much as to the 1994 law.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

Following implementation of the ban, the share of gun crimes involving AWs declined by 17% to 72% across the localities examined for this study (Baltimore, Miami, Milwaukee, Boston, St. Louis, and Anchorage), based on data covering all or portions of the 1995-2003 post-ban period. This is consistent with patterns found in national data on guns recovered by police and reported to ATF.

So a ban of AWs with grandfathering reduced the AW crime rate. That indicates effectiveness. The Australian AW ban - with no grandfathering - was summarized here:

Australia's 1996 gun law reforms were followed by more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings, and accelerated declines in firearm deaths, particularly suicides. Total homicide rates followed the same pattern. Removing large numbers of rapid-firing firearms from civilians may be an effective way of reducing mass shootings, firearm homicides and firearm suicides.

Yet you accuse me of "terrible confirmation bias on this topic, to the point of misreading clear language and ignoring blatant contradictions." So in addition to being a gun nut, you're suffering a pretty serious case of projection. Maybe you should work that out with a therapist instead of making it other peoples' problem.

Submitted by YesMaybe on

First of all, you claimed it was a "17% reduction in the gun crime rate". Those were your exact words. And that claim is 100% false and explicitly contradicted in the report. If you still don't understand the difference between "gun crime rate" and "the share of gun crimes involving AWs" you should learn some basic (high school level) math and reading comprehension.

Instead of admitting that the claim you made was simply false and based on misreading, you now instead claim a reduction in "the AW crime rate". Well, sure, I can believe that a ban on automatic weapons would reduce the rate of crimes involving automatic weapons. But that doesn't change the fact that the claim you made of a "17% reduction in the gun crime rate" was false and contradicted by the report itself, just like I said in that thread and in this thread.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

And as the example in Australia shows, did so even in categories of guns not covered by the ban. That was the original point I was making, and the one I am trying to stick to. The non-grandfathered ban in Australia had dramatic ("more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings"), not negligible, effects.

Again, just to be extra clear: That is the main point I am trying to get at. An effective ban on assault weapons will result in a reduction of assault weapon violence. The more comprehensive the ban, the more dramatic the reduction. It also appears to prompt a secondary reduction of other gun violence as well ("accelerated declines in firearm deaths, particularly suicides").

Instead of addressing that, you've seized on what should have been a brief point of clarification ("it was AW violence, not all firearm violence") as being dispositive of all that. I wonder why that is?

Submitted by YesMaybe on

"Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. AWs were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban. LCMs are involved in a more substantial share of gun crimes, but it is not clear how often the outcomes of gun attacks depend on the ability of offenders to fire more than ten shots (the current magazine capacity limit) without reloading." (from the same report)

Note that I'm not opposed to what you're proposing. But I am opposed to your making patently false claims such as the one you made that the 1994 reduced the gun crime rate by 17%. Such a figure, if it had been true, would have been a hugely significant effect. So claiming it's true, when it's not, is a huge misrepresentation. It's not about "a brief point of clarification" but about a major falsehood. In fact, I have been focusing on the reported effects of the 1994 law (I provided several quotes about it in the old thread). But the fact that it takes a back-and-forth of about 8 messages just to get you to recognize a straightforwardly false claim you made as false (which I supposed you now realize even if you can't bring yourself to say it explicitly) makes clear it's pointless to discuss it with you. So, adieu.

danps's picture
Submitted by danps on

of Australia's ban, you focus exclusively on the speculated effects of legislation I am not talking about. I understand why you need to cling to that thin reed, and also why you need to speak in dry statistical language (those not massacred as the result of a ban will not feel statistically insignificant, you can be sure), but the fact that you can't/won't make the simple connection of "fewer guns = less gun violence" is exactly the kind of Zero Concessions! intransigence that is the mark of extremists like Wayne LaPierre. And that quite frankly allows for terms like "gun nut" to take persistent hold in the public imagination.

Submitted by lambert on

I spent several hours over on the militia boards (and at least on the Maine board I read, any racists got slapped down hard; good). A few impressions:

1. Wow, utterly different culture, right down the writing style;

2. What do I care if some guy out in the Unorganized Territories has a hunting rifle? (Yes, there is the vegetarian/Buddhist thread, but that thread is not this thread.) I don't care.

3. For purposes of public policy, I don't see why guns shouldn't be regulated exactly like cars. License every single one of them, and require training. I wonder if at a minimum that training should be in proportion to lethality (accepting for the purposes of argument the right for any and everybody to own working assault weapons). I mean, if there are increasingly higher thresholds for cars, trucks, construction machinery, airplanes, then why not for rifles, assault weapons, machine guns, tanks, nuclear weapons? (The last two for Second Amendment absolutists; I would like very much to know where the right to bear arms stops, since a right with no limits or boundaries isn't a right.)

4. I don't regard Scalia's opinion on a personal right to gun ownership under the Second Amendment as legitimate. That is because I do not recognize any Supreme Court decision after the Court was recomposed following Bush v. Gore as legitimate (including, bonus points, CItizens United), because Bush v. Gore was a right wing coup.

5. Those poor schlubs are just as resentful of the bailouts and the banks and just as shocked and demoralized by the collapsed economy and American decline as the rest of us.

6. Yes, there really are gun nuts.

So I've been using, rather than "gun nuts," gun [nuts|advocates|owners]. Overlapping, but not identical classes: Some people belong to all three categories, some only to one.

What would seem to be common to all categories is funding the NRA. Perhaps I should go farther and introduce an additional form of notation like gun [nuts(100)|advocates(100)|owners(5)] to express the idea (and I'm just making up the numbers) that 100% of gun nuts are NRA members, 100% of gun advocates are NRA members, and that 5% of gun owners are NRA members (setting the last number low because estimates of gun ownership, if they are to be relied on, are so large). That's a compact way of saying that not all gun people are identical.

That said, it seems obvious to me that the NRA, as a very well-funded and extremely powerful organization, had a large role in changing the culture to (uniquely in the world) encourage gun ownership. And they were as successful as, say, the tobacco lobby was. And to the extent that gun [nuts(100)|advocates(100)|owners(5)] funded the NRA, they own that success. What really frosts me, however, is that gun [nuts(100)|advocates(100)|owners(5)] won't agree to own the externalities that their cultural success produced. We get a lot of bullshit and evasion and finger-pointing instead. For example--

Certainly for gun[nuts|advocates] and gun[advocates] (e.g., Boxer) the answer to problems with guns is always more guns; a classic self-licking ice cream cone, like any arms race. With Ron Paul, amazingly enough, I find the concern for dead (white) children in Sandy Hook, when coupled with no concern for dead (brown) nauseating. But the fact that plenty of liberals suck doesn't get the G[NAO]s off the hook! That said, the only argument from public purpose -- as opposed to my gun, my property -- I keep hearing from [nuts(100)|advocates(100)|owners(100)] is the idea that noble gun [nuts|advocates|owners] serve as an important check against tyranny. Well, I call bullshit on that: If the warrantless surveillance, the Patriot Act, the TSA, the DHS, the NDAA, the "kill list," and domestic drones hasn't brought the G[NAO]s out to do whatever they thought they should do when tyranny arrives, what is going to?

Submitted by lambert on

I have to go through and put in all the comments now.