The N.R.A.’s political protection racket

Gabrielle Giffords writes poignantly in the New York Times of her anger and disappointment at the cowardice displayed by senators who voted yesterday against making it harder for criminals and the mentally ill to gain access to deadly firearms.

And this NYT op-ed piece from December 2012, written by Richard W. Painter a few months ago, has new relevance in the wake of yesterday’s Senate vote. Painter is a professor of law at the University of Minnesota and was the chief White House ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. Painter writes:

FOR years, protection rackets dominated dangerous urban neighborhoods. Shop owners and residents lived in relative security only by paying off or paying homage to organized criminals or corrupt cops. Anyone who dared to stand up to these “protectors” would not be around for long.

The Republican Party — once a proud bastion of civic and business leaders who battled Southern racism, Northern corruption and the evils of big government — has for the past several decades been itself the victim of political protection rackets. …The most blatant protection racket is orchestrated by the National Rifle Association, which is ruthless against candidates who are tempted to stray from its view that all gun regulations are pure evil.

Read Painter’s column in its entirety here. (This was forwarded to us by Rev. Neil Alan Willard, rector of St. Stephen’s Church in Edina, where Painter is a parishioner.)

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