Look How the Gun Lobby Blackmailed These People-and Got Away With It


Do you or your parents remember the Godfather movies of the 1970s? They showed how the Mafia used fear and threats to terrorize its enemies into submission—from the head of a movie mogul’s dead horse put in his bed while he slept to a Senator made to believe he had killed a sex worker while he was in a blackout. Flash forward to today’s gun lobby tactics and similar blackmail is common and effective.


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Last week we wrote about how outdoors personality Jim Zumbo was stripped of his Outdoors Network TV show, Outdoor Life magazine position and relationship with Remington Arms for calling “black rifles” inappropriate for hunting. Under duress, his career ruined overnight by the black hand of the NRA, he recanted that “I’ll do all I can to educate others who are, or were, as ignorant as I was about ‘black’ rifles and the controversy that surrounds them.”


Then there was gun safety activist Heidi Yewman whose series in MS magazine about how easy it is to buy a gun—it took her seven minutes—so enraged gun advocates they published her home address. No threat there. Gun zealots also posted the home addresses of staff at The Journal News and where their children went to school as retaliation for publishing the addresses of local handgun permit holders. (Don’t their guns keep them safe as they say?) Sadly, the tactics silenced both publications.


Then there was the backlash, two years ago, against the Los Angeles area Oak Tree Gun Club and the Rockville, MD area gun shop Engage Armament for presuming to sell “smart guns.” Though the gun lobby hates bad guys who smart guns would thwart, advocates were nonetheless irate.


Andy Raymond, co-owner of Engage Armament, was called a traitor, a communist and received death threats for daring to try to sell a smart gun and was intimidated into backing down. The NRA tweeted the victory. Like Zumbo, Raymond evinced an unctuous, forced mea culpa. “I’m terribly sorry. . . . You don’t have anything to worry about from me,” he said in a video.


This week the New York Times reported on a Maine restaurateur so shocked at the Orlando massacre, the worst in U.S. history, she posted on social media that no one who owned a high-powered semiautomatic rifle or supported owning one was welcome in her restaurants. Predictably she was assailed on social media and threatened with boycotts. Her restaurants received hundreds of trash reviews.


Gun advocates love to threaten boycotts which never work because advocates’ numbers are strikingly small (despite their loud, single-issue bark) and they are few corporations’ desired customers. An NRA boycott against Conocophillips was a pathetic failure but the obverse–a boycott of H.R. Block by gun safety advocates for inking a relationship with the NRA—did work.


Like Whole Foods, Peet’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Buffalo Wild Wings, Panera Bread, Starbucks, Sonic Drive-In, Chili’s Grill & Bar, Chipotle and Jack in the Box, all of which have banned or discouraged guns, the Maine restaurateur lost no business. However, she says, she underestimated the extreme, vindictive backlash of gun advocates.


Of course any blogger or reporter covering gun safety has encountered the 2A tsunami. Examples of online remarks targeted at NGVAC are “Why are people with Jewish names at the root of most everything wrong with society today?” and “Do you want take revenge on them for vilifying you as a baby killing racist rednecks?” Some remarks were so menacing they were blocked by Google.


The amazing thing about gun advocates and their threats is–they think they are the “victims.” Limits on high-powered semiautomatic rifles, magazine capacities or where they can carry their guns victimize and oppress them! If they are victims, they are well armed victims who make you an offer you can’t refuse.


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