Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

Tim Murphy is a senior reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Gun Group: We're Giving Away a Free Assault Rifle for Freedom!

| Mon Jan. 14, 2013 12:19 PM EST

Most dangerous thing in our inbox this morning: the above promo from the Second Amendment group Georgia Gun Owners, which is giving away a free AR-15 assault rifle to one lucky member on February 7. You get a carbine! You get a carbine! You get a carbine! The AR-15 was the weapon used by gunman Adam Lanza in last month's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. It was also among the firearms included in the 1994 assault weapons ban (and subsequently legalized when the ban expired nine years ago). Per a press release, the GGO "hopes to alert, activate and mobilize gun owners in every corner of the state to oppose the Feinstein Gun Ban and others being touted in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere across the country." (The entry form adds: "Void where prohibited.")

In compliance with federal law, the lucky winner will be subjected to a background check—although the federal background check database is woefully incomplete. But the larger context, as the New York Times reported on Friday, is that rumors of impending gun control legislation are really the best thing that's happened to the firearms industry in a long time. Dealers across the country are running out of arms and ammunition, and background checks for new gun purchases—which tracks closely to overall gun sales—increased 58.6 percent in December 2012 compared to December 2011. As a gun seller in Des Moines, Iowa, told the Times: "If I had 1,000 AR-15s I could sell them in a week."

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Glenn Beck Building Ayn Rand-Inspired Utopia

| Fri Jan. 11, 2013 5:29 PM EST

Glenn Beck has a dream. On Thursday, the former Fox News host, gold bug, survival-seed guru, movie star, and bestselling author unveiled plans for a new planned community—inspired by the Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged—to be built at an undisclosed location somewhere in the United States*.

No, really:

Glenn believes that he can bring the heart and the spirit of Walt's early Disneyland ideas into reality. Independence, USA wouldn't be about rides and merchandise, but would be about community and freedom. The Marketplace would be a place where craftmen and artisan could open and run real small businesses and stores. The owners and tradesmen could hold apprenticeships and teach young people the skills and entrepreneurial spirit that has been lost in today’s entitlement state.

There would also be an Media Center, where Glenn's production company would film television, movies, documentaries, and more. Glenn hoped to include scripted television that would challenge viewers without resorting to a loss of human decency. He also said it would be a place where aspiring journalists would learn how to be great reporters.

Across the lake, there would be a church modelled after The Alamo which would act as a multi-denominational mission center. The town will also have a working ranch where visitors can learn how to farm and work the land.

Independence would also be home to a Research and Development center where people would come to learn, innovate, educate, and create. There would be a theme park for people to recharge and have fun with their families.

People would also have the option to live in Independence, with a residential area where people of different incomes could all come together and be neighbors.

Beck estimates the city-theme-park will cost about $2 billion to build, or roughly .002 trillion-dollar platinum coins, or .178 Fox News blue whales.

Correction: This post originally stated that the city would be in Texas. Beck hasn't specified which state he'll build Independence in.

GOP Rep.'s Gold Standard for Gun Stores Was Sued for Negligence

| Fri Jan. 11, 2013 2:47 PM EST

On Thursday, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) stopped by the Cobb County chamber of commerce to explain his views on gun control. But it wasn't just any gun store—Gingrey, the Marietta Daily Journal reported, "took the time to praise Adventure Outdoors owner Jay Wallace as the gold standard for running a responsible gun retail business."

The problem: Adventure Outdoors is anything but. In 2006, New York City sued the firm for negligence in preventing its guns from falling into the hands of criminals. Between 1996 and 2000 alone, 256 guns sold at Adventure Outdoors were connected to crimes—21 in New York City alone. "ATF has established that a very small percentage of retail gun dealers—about 1%—are responsible for approximately 57% of the illegally-possessed guns nationwide," the city explained in its lawsuit. "The Defendants are among this small group of gun dealers who arm illegal gun possessors. As such, the Defendants cause, contribute to and maintain a public nuisance within the City of New York."

The city specifically singled out Adventure Outdoors for selling guns to what are known as "straw purchasers." Based in part on the work of two investigators the city hired, the complaint charged that "upon information and belief, Defendants intentionally or negligently sell handguns to prohibited persons through 'strawman' purchases, in which an individual legally able to buy a handgun purchases the gun from a licensed gun dealer, intending to transfer it immediately to a prohibited person."

Here's the lawsuit:

 

 

A default judgment was issued against Adventure Outdoors in 2008, and in 2011, a federal court ordered that an independent outside expert be appointed to oversee the company's sales practices and ensure it didn't sell guns to straw purchasers (a federal appeals court later struck a portion of the "special master" mandate, but still subjected the company to an outside monitor*).

Gingrey's comments came at the same chamber of commerce breakfast in which he defended his former colleague Todd Akin's suggestion that women who have been raped have special mechanism to prevent a pregnancy, citing his own experience as an OBGYN. Gingrey is chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus.

h/t James Carter IV

*I've clarified the language here.

NRA's Armed Security Guard Proposal Kind Of Popular

| Thu Jan. 10, 2013 11:23 AM EST

The National Rifle Association's proposal to eliminate school shootings by putting an armed guard in every public school was greeted with ridicule when it was unveiled last month. (MoJo was no exception.) After all, armed guards hadn't prevented massacres at Columbine and Virginia Tech, and as I reported on Monday, the push seemed all the more dubious given that the NRA's point man on the issue was on the board of a private security company.

But the NRA may have been on to something—at least insofar as public opinion is concerned. According to a new poll released by Quinnipiac on Thursday, Virginians favor putting armed police officers in schools by a more than two to one margin. The proposal has bipartisan support, with 79 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Democrats backing it.

The most revealing finding in the poll may be this: Although voters broadly favor many forms of gun control—59 percent support banning high-capacity magazines; 62 percent think assault weapons "make the country more dangerous"—most Virginians aren't necessarily prepared to do anything about it. Just 24 percent of those surveyed said that a candidate's position on gun control would be a deal-breaker come election time.

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