Apologies to the good people of Wapiti, Wyoming who became a national news punch line this week, no joke intended. Trump's Secretary-designate of Education invoked potential grizzly bear attacks on the only school in Wapiti to dodge the question of whether guns belong in schools. Believe me, this isn't "fake news". Watch for yourself.
This highlights the hold the gun lobby - NRA and friends - have on the Republican Party at present. No one seeking public office, elected or appointed, these days can take a public stance which doesn't fall closely in line with the gun lobby's guns for everyone, everywhere agenda. So Michigan's Besty DeVos, the Education Secretary-designate, offered the grizzly bear attack scenario in answer to a confirmation hearing question of whether guns ever belong in schools. No one laughed.
With their Republican Senate majority and NRA-endorsed newly sworn-in President in the White House, DeVos' faux paw won't inhibit her confirmation in the least. Because in the NRA's America, the Republican Party and its officeholders march in lockstep with the gun lobby. So called "gun rights" are the litmus test of litmus tests.
The question offered by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy to DeVos at this week's confirmation hearing opened the window into the gun lobby's influence and extremely aggressive expectations for the incoming Trump Administration. Given Trump's campaign rhetoric, reversing gun violence prevention laws and executive actions dating back decades, are high on the priority list.
Topping the gun lobby's must have list is forcing every state to recognize concealed carry gun permit laws from every other state. Is that even constitutional? In practice, this would mean that nothing would prohibit someone who obtained a permit to carry a concealed gun from a state with zero safety, training or background check requirements to carry it in any other state. The gun lobby likes calling this reciprocity. They're good marketers; one has to give them that distinction.
In fact they're such good marketers that one of the leading brands of western wear now has a line of jackets called "Concealed Carry". Again, not fake news. As seen recently at Denver's National Western Stock Show the Cinch brand proudly advertises both men's and women's jackets with a "neat, cool" feature, concealed carry pockets sewed into the lining. As Denver's Shepler's Western Wear store ad says, "look fantastic and feel secure." Yee Haw!
Eliminating the Gun-Free School Zones Act passed in 1996, is a high number two on the gun lobby's 2017 agenda. Thus the question to Secretary-designate DeVos, was appropriate as the law prohibits possession or firing of a gun on public school property, even when warding off grizzly bears.
The law is a clear statement from Congress to parents, teachers, administrators and school-kids that guns don't belong in school. The bill to eliminate the law has already been introduced and is gaining Republican House co-sponsors. In a bit of 1984-like verbal gymnastics, chief sponsor Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie titles his bill the "Safe Students Act".
What else is on the gun lobby's agenda? Well how about repealing the ban on gun silencers? This bill is titled the "Hearing Protection Act", seriously, and seeks to amend 1934's National Firearms Act. By the way, the purpose of the law was to prohibit the sale and possession of certain types of guns and equipment "because of their frequent use in crime." Rest easy since "the NRA heartily supports the HPA and thanks Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) and his cosponsors for their leadership in this important effort."
If you're keeping track when President Trump signs these bills America will be proud to tout that it's the only country where anyone can carry a concealed gun into a public school classroom equipped with a silencer. How Great is that?!
If that wasn't enough gun rights progress for one session of the newly sworn in 115th Congress, there's more. On a state-by-state basis, the gun lobby continues promoting laws to allow concealed guns on college campuses, succeeding in nearly a dozen states. They continue fighting efforts to keep violent domestic offenders from obtaining or keeping a gun, and even support allowing convicted felons to retain their ability to possess a gun.
As President Trump takes the oath of office this Friday, the gun lobby is confident that their early endorsement and over $20 mllion in pro-Trump advertising ensures a friend in the White House. Watch out grizzly bears and everyone else in America.