Remember those cute, elegantly-colored Russian nesting dolls that people once gave as last minute stocking stuffers? We have some of those, too, mostly in our politics. At this point, I could use my favorite slogan, “follow the money.” In this case, let’s follow those deceptive little dolls to see where the NRA and other gun groups get their money.
Imagine a slide of a father and young son carrying rifles, looking up at a “V” of ducks above. They’re identified on the slide as mallards. Its caption might read, “preserve our forests.” The next slide might show a doe in the distance with a similar patriotic slogan. But the rifles are bigger, with more elaborate gun sights.
The U.S. Capitol or the Stars and Stripes would be in the background of another slide, offering a partial list of the distributors of firearms in the U.S. These include Wal-Mart, Dick’s Sporting Goods (with 480 stores), and an endless array of smaller gun outlets, all the way down to the ones that list “guns, bullets, and live bait.”
Our next patriotic slide could reveal some of the financial backers concealed by their brand names. Cerberus Capital Management LP are investors in the Freedom Group, which manufactures the Bushmaster rifle that law enforcement officials say was used in the Newtown, Conn., slaughter. (One wonders whether Governor Romney considers all of those corporations to be persons.)
Many of these groups are changing their brand names or selling out. While Cerberus is trying quietly to sell the Freedom Group, others try for a lower profile, including such familiar names as Beretta, Colt, and Browning. All of these are already under the umbrella of the Winchester brand.
These are just a few examples of how difficult it is to identify some of these weapons at their source. Several of these companies have recently changed their product line. Wal-Mart has decided not to distribute Bushmasters, and other semiautomatic rifles, for the time being, and other distributors are contemplating a similar move.
Lest the weapon and ammo business seem like small potatoes, let’s do some comparisons. In 2011, there were just over 14,000 McDonalds in this country and over 36,000 grocery stores. According to ABC News, there were over 129,000 federally licensed gun and ammunition dealers.
You could follow these numbers and these names until you were dizzy but they couldn’t possibly reveal the cost or the loss of killing one of those children at Sandy Hook. Many of these corporations have cracker jack accounting firms tracking their every move. Maybe they could give us a specific number for the life of each of these children. I’m pretty sure they won’t.