How the US gun lobby exploits the coronavirus pandemic to further its aims

The Germans have learned their lessons of history.  America has not and never will.

It’s disgraceful that the American mainstream media has not picked up on the story. That is because the media is totally cowed by the American gun lobby.

The German online network Deutsche Welle is unsparing in its criticism of the American President. This investigative story fits right in with the obvious but under reported story that Trump’s most ardent fanatical supporters are behind the movements to end Shelter in Place.

The powerful American gun lobby is leading this movement which will have dire consequences for the nation.

Excerpted from Deutsche Welle 4.24.2020

A tense mood in the US

The coronavirus crisis continues to ravage the US, with the country’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, predicting more than 200,000 deaths and over 1 million infections over the course of the pandemic.

In a country where a majority of voters agree that stay-at-home measures should be in place, a small number of loud pro-gun activists give the impression that the country is even further divided.

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As the US 2020 election season begins to ramp up, political actions like this could see a huge impact on the political landscape and outcome of the vote. With pressure from the vocal far-right political minorities for which Trump continues to show support, the question is whether this fringe support is enough to keep him in office.

With a president so connected to pro-gun activism and the increasing influence of far-right lobbies on White House policy, the Dorrs could achieve exactly the kind of loosened gun laws for which they have long campaigned – and for which they are now trying to exploit the coronavirus pandemic.

There were nearly 870,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US and just short of 50,000 deaths as of early April 24, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Trump demonstrated support for the “Reopen America” campaign in three separate tweets on April 17, which read: “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!,” “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!,” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

An investigation into protests against coronavirus restrictions in the US revealed a tale of coordinated political action by gun lobbies.

A DW investigation has found that protest groups in various US states against recent coronavirus lockdown measures were set up by conservative gun lobbyists. The coordinated effort seems to be driven by the apparent long-term aim of building a larger base of support for gun law relaxation.

This comes after thousands of people across the US organized online and started to demand an end to stay-at-home orders. Protest organizers claim on their Facebook pages that the lockdown restrictions are a result of “politicians on a power trip,” who they allege are “destroying our businesses, passing laws behind the cover of darkness, and forcing us to hand over our freedoms and livelihood.”

“Reopen America” has become the common name for these protests. Between April 8 and 16, at least 34 website addresses, such as http://www.reopeniowa.com or http://www.reopenpa.com for the state of Pennsylvania, were purchased.

These web addresses automatically redirect to pages on pro-gun sites. The gun lobby pages incorrectly claim that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and its resulting disease, COVID-19, are “far less deadly than the flu” and say, in text littered with typos, “President [Donald] Trump has been very clear that we must get America back to work very quickly or the ‘cure’ to this terrible disease may be worse that the disease itself!”

The registration of so many reopen website addresses in a short period of time led social media users to conclude that the campaign was “astroturfing” — the practice of making a campaign appear grassroots while withholding that it was organized by a single entity.

Of the 34 website addresses registered, only 16 are linked to active pages, with five tracing back to one family in the American Midwest, the Dorrs. These reopen websites were for Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio, each of which has laws allowing open carry of firearms with a permit.

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These laws are not loose enough for the Dorrs, who are ultra-conservative pro-gun political campaigners active in a number of US states. Three Dorr brothers — Ben, Aaron and Chris — are especially involved in political campaigns criticizing the Republican Party for not being conservative enough on gun laws and on abortion laws. However, they are strong supporters of Trump.

Earlier this year, the Republican Party of Minnesota described them as “scam artists” who are “actually just building their own brand and raising money.”

One of the brothers, Ben Dorr, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that these claims are “fake news,” adding that his group, the Pennsylvania Firearms Association, would ramp up efforts in 2021. He said he set up the websites for the anti-lockdown protests from a “constitutional approach.” This originalist approach strictly interprets the US constitution as it was understood in its 18th-century context, and remains a theme in the Dorrs’ politics, with the anti-lockdown protests adding to their ultra-conservative messaging.

By flouting state lockdown rules and gathering in crowds, health experts worry that these protests could contribute to the skyrocketing cases of infection across the US.

https://www.dw.com/en/revealed-how-the-us-gun-lobby-exploits-the-coronavirus-pandemic-to-further-its-aims/a-53230399