RNC to the World: “We are the Mendacious, My Friends”

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cnsbuxgwgaagzovThe first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was a doozy. There was plenty of fodder for a myriad of blog posts, especially when they blasted “We are the Champions” by Queen as Donald Trump brought his plagiarizing wife to the stage.

On Monday, the Republican party adopted a platform which has been called one of the most extreme and anti-LGBT in recent history. It includes planks against marriage equality (three separate statements) and bathroom access and planks supporting businesses that seek to discriminate against LGBT customers and conversion therapy for LGBT kids. Later on the same day, they played an anthem that was written and performed by the proudly out musician Freddy Mercury, who died in 1991 of bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS.

What did we learn from this?

That the GOP will capitalize on the creations and efforts of LGBT people while they unequivocally stand against recognizing the humanity of their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters. To that end, they’ll wrap themselves in religion to justify ignoring the parts of the Constitution they disagree with and while supporting a candidate who makes a mockery of the Christian values they espouse. This same candidate who chose as his running mate a man whose signing of an extreme anti-LGBT law seriously damaged Indiana’s reputation and economy (in the aftermath, the state lost 12 large conventions and one study estimated that the total economic cost of Pence’s RFRA has been $250 million).

In this election, being a lesbian is going to make voting quite easy. There is a party actively trying to strip from me my dignity as a human being and there is another that isn’t. Even if I could have agreed with other parts of their platform, how can I possibly vote against my own status as an American citizen deserving of equal rights and equal protection under the law?

For most Republicans, I realize that it doesn’t matter what LGBT people think of the platform, their presumptive nominee or his running mate. They know we’re not going to vote for Trump anyway.

But anyone who understands how elections are won, knows it does matter what moderate Republicans and Independents think. For many of them, using religion as a pretext for discrimination is a bridge too far.

Just look at the response over the extremist RFRA’s (Georgia, Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana, etc) that were specifically designed to protect businesses which discriminate. Or the negative reaction against North Carolina’s HB2 or the backlash to Mississippi’s HB 1523. Residents and tourists alike realize being unwelcoming is a bad idea (check out Forum for Equality’s Louisiana’s Equality Means Business page for plenty of reasons why diversity and equality is good for businesses).

This election, you need look no further than the platforms of the parties (Democrat vs Republican) when making your decision. I urge you to read them. And I urge you to vote in November.

It is about more than just the presidency. There are a number of down ballot candidates who are seeking to win on a platform of “Take America Backward Again.” (ht to HRC)

We can’t let them.


GCLS 12th Annual Goldie Awards

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It was a lovely evening in Washington, DC for the Golden Crown Literary Society 12th Annual Awards Ceremony. Here are this year’s winners:

Debut Author
Threads of the Heart – Jeannie Levig, Bold Strokes Books
The Diplomat – Sophia French, Bella Books
The Revelation of Beatrice Darby – Jean Copeland, Bold Strokes Books

Creative Non-Fiction
Girl Sex 101 – Allison Moon, Lunatic Ink
The Ghosts Who Travel with Me: A Literary Pilgrimage Through Brautigan’s America – Allison Green, Ooligan Press

Romantic Suspense/Intrigue/Adventure
One Last Thing – Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou, Bold Strokes Books
T-Minus Two – KG MacGregor, Bella Books
Reasonable Doubt – Carsen Taite, Bold Strokes Books

Poetry
I Carry My Mother – Lesléa Newman, Headmistress Press
Furs Not Mine – Andrea Cohen, Four Way Books

Mystery/Thriller
Tarnished Gold – Ann Aptaker, Bold Strokes Books
The Red Files – Lee Winter, Ylva Publishing
Cold to the Touch – Cari Hunter, Bold Strokes Books

Young Adult
Missing Mary – Cricket Watson, Sapphire Books Publisher
The Coming of the Mojo – Barbara Treat Williams, Spinsters Ink
Finding Home – Shelia Powell and Liz McMullen, Sapphire Books Publisher

Anthology/Collections (Creative Non-Fiction)
Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity – Carter Sickels (ed), Ooligan Press

Paranormal/Horror
The Deadening: Book 3 of the Sisters of Spirits Triology – Yvonne Heidt, Bold Strokes Books
Good Enough to Eat – Alison Grey & Jae, Ylva Publishing
Twisted whispers – Sheri Lewis Wohl, Bold Strokes Books

Erotica
Don’t be Shy- Astrid Ohletz and Jae (eds), Ylva Publishing
The Muse – Meghan O’Brien, Bold Strokes Books
Summer Passion – MJ Williamsz, Bold Strokes Books

Dramatic General Fiction
A Small Country About to Vanish – Victoria Avilan, Shaggy Dog Stories
Wishbone – Elaine Burnes, Bedazzled Ink Publishing
Heyday – Marnie Woodrow, Tightrope Books

Anthology/Collections (Fiction)
Through the Hourglass: Lesbian Historical Romance – Sacchi Green and Patty G Henderson, The Liz McMullen Show Publications
Snake Memories and Other Stories – Diana Rivers, Hadra Books
Lesbians on the Loose: Crime Writers on the Lam – Lori Lake and Jessie Chandler (eds)

Historical Fiction
Golddigger – Hilary McCollum, Bella Books
The Witch of Stalingrad – Justine Saracen, Bold Strokes Books
In the Company of Women – Kate Christie, Bella Books

Traditional Contemporary Romance
The Right Time – Susan X Meager, Brisk Press
Locked Inside – Annette Mori, Affinity Ebook Press
Making a Comeback – Julie Blair, Bold Strokes Books

Science Fiction/Fantasy
Without a Front: The Warrior’s Challenge – Fletcher DeLancy, Ylva Publishing
Dragon War Horse – D. Jackson Leigh, Bold Strokes Books
Lady Dragon – D. Jordan Redhawk, Bella Books

Tee Corinne Award for Outstanding Cover Design
Cast Me Gently – artist Glendon Haddix, Ylva Publishing
All We Lack – artist Ann McMan, Treehouse Studio

Ann Bannon Popular Choice
All We Lack – Sandra Moran, Bedazzled Ink Publishing

Director’s Award – Mary Hettel

Lee Lynch Classic Award
Presented to Curious Wine by Katherine V. Forrest

Marie Castle, Katherine V Forrest and I

Marie Castle, Katherine V Forrest and I

Trailblazer Award
Presented to Jewelle Gomez

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners! If you want to know more about the Golden Crown Literary Society or next year’s annual conference in Chicago, click HERE.

We also celebrated the lives of those from the lesbian literary community who have passed since our last conference:

Lost Sisters
Nikki Rashan
Sheila Connolly
Denise Marshall
Honey Lee Cottrell
Nene Adams
Sandra Moran
Inez Rieder
Jeanne Cordova
Jen Wright

Golden Crown Literary Conference in DC!

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I’m very excited that I will be hopping on a train at the end of next week to take me to Washington, DC and the 2016 Golden Crown Literary Society Annual Conference.

While there, I will be catching the 4th of July fireworks, seeing the White House and getting a tour of the Library of Congress. However, I’m most looking forward to the horde of literary lesbians who will be descending on our nation’s capital.

I’ve waxed lyrical before on what the GCLS means to me; suffice to say I can’t wait to catch up with all those readers and authors and publishers whom I’m honored to call friends. And buying books. Lots and lots of books!

If you want to catch me at the conference, I’ll be doing the following:

I will be moderating a panel discussion on Sci-fi and Social Justice on Thursday, July 7th from 9:30am to 10:20am. My panelists include: Jewelle Gomez, Elizabeth Hodge, Lise MacTague, MB Panichi, and Tiffany Shamaly. Since speculative fiction allows a reimagining of the universe, we’ll be looking at just what is the writer’s responsibility for creating diverse, inclusive, and just worlds as well as discussing how we as readers and writers use science fiction to organize for social change.

I will be moderating the Author Spotlight on Thursday from 4:40 to 5:30pm with the following authors: Julie Blair, Jessie Chandler, Bev Prescott, MJ Williamz, and Sheryl Wright

On Friday morning at 8:30am, I will on the panel titled Blood and Gore I. The moderator is Justine Saracen and my fellow panelists are Ann Aptaker, JD Glass, Elizabeth Parmer and Allison Solomon. This panel will focus on violence in the setting of the lesbian novel.

At 9:30am, I will be participating in the Author Spotlight alongside these great authors: Lynn Ames, Marie Castle, Fay Jacobs, Susan X Meagher and moderated by the marvelous Melissa Brayden. I will be reading from my latest novel, Bitter Heart.

I will be signing my books (and anything else a person could want signed) during the author autograph session at 4:30 on Friday afternoon. This session is open to the public so come on down!

Rise early and join me at 8:30 on Saturday morning for Blood and Gore II. Moderated by Alison Solomon, my fellow panelists are: J.L. Gaynor, Laydin Michaels and Justine Saracen. This panel will focus on violence with the protagonist or in the relationship of the lesbian novel.

 

I’m also looking forward to the always funny and insightful Fay Jacobs who will be delivering the Keynote Address at 10:40 on Saturday morning. Later that night, we’ll all get dressed in our finery for the GCLS Awards Ceremony.

I can’t wait to see y’all there!

 

 

JBE Moves Louisiana Forward

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Today was a historic day in Louisiana. Our newly elected Democratic governor signed an inclusive Executive Order providing employment protections for state employees and employees of state contractors to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He also rescinded former Governor Bobby Jindal’s executive order extending the provisions included in Mike Johnson’s Marriage and Conscience Act after it failed to pass out of committee last year.

These are things we’ve been working hard on for a while and I was so pleased to be able to watch him sign it.

Gov JBE signs LGBT EO

LGBT org and allies before signing

Here are the major LGBT organizations standing shoulder to shoulder with the governor – Equality Louisiana, Forum for Equality, Louisiana Trans Advocates and PACE.

Group pic with Gov JBE after signing EO

Here is the press release from the Governor’s office. Here is a copy of the Executive Order.

Here is the Forum for Equality eblast.

Please take a moment to thank Governor John Bel Edwards for signing this inclusive Executive Order. Follow this link for an action page to send your letter.

No Hate in My State

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Ten hours.

That is all it took for the extremists in the North Carolina legislator to craft HB2 to overturn the city of Charlotte’s LGBT non-discrimination law and include an anti-trans bathroom measure to up the awful quotient.

Here is what the law does:

what nc law does

Despite businesses and corporations like Red Hat, Biogen, Dow Chemical, and others coming out in opposition, the bill passed the NC House by 83 to 25 (the yes votes include 11 Democrats) and 32-0 in the Senate after all the Democrats walked out. At around 10pm that same night, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed it into law.

The special session cost North Carolina around $42,000 and that is before costly legal challenges begin (it is likely the bill violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Sex Discrimination in Education).

I’ve already had someone respond to a post I made asking why don’t I just move. They wanted to know what’s keeping me from leaving the South to her backward thinking and hateful laws.

Not only is this my home but the ones who would gladly use their bible and their bigotry to discriminate need me here.

As a mature Caucasian woman of progressive beliefs, living in an island of blue in the sea of red which is the great state of Louisiana, it is vital that my voice be raised to say #NoHateInMyStateno hate in my state hrc

Those who care about the future we’re creating need to stay and work on making things better. Get involved if you don’t like what you are seeing/hearing. Fight for what we know is right.

And, even more importantly, we must vote! Our vote is our voice. Vote in all elections and not just in Presidential ones.

Because in the final analysis, the only questions that matter are the ones asked by John Lewis:

If not us, then who?
If not now, then when?

Trailer for Women in Sports!

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Check out this cool trailer for the Women in Sports Anthology:

Stories by Lee LynchJeanine Hoffman, Pat Cronin, Jessie Chandler, Mb Panichi, Erica Lawson, Verda Foster, Tonie Chacon, Sharon G Clark, Nann Dunne, AL Duncan, and Kate McLachlan and me!

Women in Sports is published by Regal Press and is scheduled to be released in April.

Saints and Sinners 2016

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saints and sinners cover

The 2016 Saints and Sinners Festival is scheduled for Friday, April 1 through Sunday, April 3 in New Orleans.

The Festival was founded in 2003 as an innovative way to disseminate HIV/AIDS prevention messages via the writers, thinkers and spokes-people of the LGBT community as well as to bring the LGBT literary community together in celebration.

I will be giving a reading from my new book, Bitter Heart, and will be on a panel. Info for my appearances is below:

Saturday, April 2 @11:30 AM
SAINTS AND SINNERS READING SERIES: WRITERS READ
Authors Rich Barnett, Jameson Currier, Jewelle Gomez, Mary Griggs, J.D. Horn, and Gregg Shapiro share their latest works in our annual reading series. Enjoy a mix of Festival favorites and promising new voices.
Hotel Monteleone, Cabildo Room
Sponsored by The John Burton Harter Charitable Trust.

Saturday, April 2 @1 PM
CREATURES OF THE NIGHT
If writers are supposed to “write what you know”—how do you create supernatural beings like vampires and werewolves and witches, oh my? Can you make up your own rules, or do you have to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before? Join us as we talk about redefining the field of paranormal fiction, and the difficulties LGBTQ writers face as they work to get their voices heard.
Panelists: N.S. Beranek, ‘Nathan Burgoine, Mary Griggs,
Jerry Rabushka, and Jeffrey Ricker.
Moderator: Candice Huber.
Hotel Monteleone, Royal Salon C

The book fair for both Saints and Sinners and the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival is located on the mezzanine level of the Hotel Monteleone. Tubby & Coo’s Book Shop is the 2016 Saints and Sinners book seller.

I hope to see you there!

Geaux Vote On March 5th, Louisiana!

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On Saturday, the Louisiana Presidential Primary will be held. It is very important as not only are state party officials on the ballot but the 51 pledged Democratic delegates and 43 pledged Republican delegates for president will be determined on March 5th. Learn more about the value of your primary vote here.

Check out the 2016 Presidential Preference Primary information sheet from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office.

During this busy campaign season, review this handout on How to Pick A Candidate from the League of women voters

Visit GeauxVote.com for polling place, ballot and other election information. Or, if you’re not opposed to strong language, you can find your polling place here.

The Independent Women’s Organization has a number of members running for Democratic party positions. Check out their list for suggestions on who to select on Saturday.

On election day, the Krewe of Hillary will be doing campaigning and phone banking for Hillary Clinton at the Hillary for Louisiana Office at 1516 Thalia Street. Here is the Facebook event information.

 

Women in Sports Anthology

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I’ve got a story in the Women in Sports Anthology! Look for it to be coming out soon!

Hot. Sweaty. Tight shorts. Sports bras. Six-pack abs. What sparks your imagination? Muscular legs? Hands that are strong and sure? Baseball, soccer, hockey, track and field…does it really matter? She’s sexy, she’s incredible and she’s all yours. Sit back, relax and enjoy some wonderful tales from this group of talented authors. Women in sports–does it get any better than that?

This amazing collection of romance and erotica includes stories from: Lee Lynch, Jessie Chandler, Mary Griggs, MB Panichi, Tonie Chacon, Kate McLachlan, A.L. Duncan, Jeanine Hoffman, Erica Lawson, Sharon G. Clark, Nann Dunne, Pat Cronin and Verda Foster.

WomenInSports_v2

Hill YES! Or why I support Hillary for President

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Hillary Clinton at a the Louisiana Leadership Institute on 9/21/2016

Hillary Clinton at a the Louisiana Leadership Institute on 9/21/2016

I’m supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton for President of the United States. I believe she is the most qualified and I want to share some of my reasons for supporting her candidacy.

I was first made aware of her during the sh*tstorm which followed her comment about staying a home and baking cookies during Bill Clinton’s 1992 run for the presidency. My nascent feminist consciousness was outraged by those who ignored that she was fiercely and vocally supportive of women having the choice of full-time career, full-time motherhood or some combination thereof.

I watched her during her time as First Lady, bucking against the trend of merely being a host for state dinners by taking a proactive role in trying to pass health care legislation in 1993. Later, I cringed at seeing her the butt of so many jokes when she decided to honor the vows her husband abused.

Every time she was mocked, her spine got a little straighter and she became more determined. While pundits called her calculated and ambitious, I saw the courage it took to keep going, to keep putting her considerable skills to work for this nation despite all the efforts to tear her down.

I was very impressed by her actions at the 2008 Democratic Convention when she stopped the roll call vote. Not only was that a class act, it shows the limits of her ambition. She choose party unity around Barack Obama instead of forcing a floor fight. See the video here:

As a feminist, I find her passion for women rights throughout her career inspiring. I was just out of graduate school when she delivered her remarks to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing. She kept women and family issues on the forefront while in the Senate including protecting access to family planning and abortion, pay equity, and defending the Violence Against Women Act. As Secretary of State, her actions in defense of women and girls and her call for fair and equal treatment and an end to violence against women were much needed on the international stage.

It takes guts to evolve and she has definitely done so on issues important to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, most notably on marriage equality and transgender rights. I was very proud of the speech she gave as Secretary of State on LGBT rights being human rights. She has continued to make non-discrimination and justice for all a cornerstone of her campaign.

Hillary Clinton has the most experience of all the candidates. She can win in November and she’ll be the leader the United States needs.

I’m going to be voting for her and I hope you do, too.

The Louisiana Presidential Primary is Saturday, March 5th. Early voting is February 20-27.

Check out the 2016 Presidential Preference Primary sheet from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office.

Go to GeauxVote.com for polling place and other election information.

If you’d like to get more involved with her campaign, they’ve opened up an office in New Orleans. Sign up to volunteer (and donate) today! Follow her on Twitter and tell the world #ImWithHer

On the Death of Antonin Scalia

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Clarence Darrow famously said, “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.”

This is one of those times.

I won’t pretend to be saddened by the news that Antonin Scalia has died. I will not mourn someone who actively used the power of his position to deprive me of my civil rights, who equated me to a murderer and animal abuser and who reduced my loving relationships to nothing but sex.

I am sorry for those who will mourn him and feel for his family in their time of loss. However, I believe our highest court and our nation is better off without him.

I could fill this blog with nasty quotes (or these) from him on all manner of issues beyond those of homosexuality and marriage equality. Remember, this is the justice who wanted to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision on women’s rights to privacy and he dissented on the decision that it was unconstitutional to execute mentally disabled or teenage prisoners, among many others.

Instead, I want to remind folks that Justice Scalia’s approach to reaching his decisions was an originalist. This is the view that says there is an identifiable original intent or original meaning, commonly known at the time of  passage or ratification, which governs all subsequent interpretation of the law.

However, before even 24 hours had passed after the news broke of his death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, “This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

This, of course, the same guy in 2005 who defended the absolute right of Presidents to nominate judges and even went so far as to say, “For the first time in 214 years, they have changed the Senate’s ‘advise and consent’ responsibilities to ‘advise and obstruct.'”

Ironic much?

From the New York Times:
“The question now is whether the Senate will honor Justice Scalia’s originalist view of the Constitution by allowing President Obama to appoint a successor, and providing its advice and consent in good faith. Or will the Republicans be willing to create a constitutional crisis and usurp the authority of the president to ensure that the Supreme Court functions as one branch of this government?”

As Hilliary Clinton said, “The Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail who are calling for Justice Scalia’s seat to remain vacant dishonor our Constitution. The Senate has a constitutional responsibility here that it cannot abdicate for partisan political reasons.”

I think that Scalia would be forced to agree.

It Matters!

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Iowa has done its national, quadrennial duty of putting the candidates for President of the United States through their caucus system. The turnout was pretty high (180,000 Republicans and 171,109 Democrats voted) and the results (Hillary Clinton only 1 percentage point ahead of Bernie Sanders and the GOP top 3 being Cruz, Trump and Rubio) means that things are heating up between the frontrunners.

In only a few short weeks, Louisiana has its presidential primary (March 5) and it is very important that you check your voter registration. Presidential primaries are closed meaning only Democrats can vote for Democratic candidates and only Republicans can vote for Republican candidates. Voters not affiliated with a party will not be able to vote for a presidential candidate (although they can still vote in the general election on November 8).

Wednesday, February 3rd is the deadline for registering for the March 5th primary. Go register online at geauxvote.com or go visit your registrar of voters.

we didn't vote

Our democracy would be a lot more representative (and more progressive) if more people voted – read this report for more details. The census data bears it out:

Census data on the 2014 midterm elections quantifies some of these gaps. While 52 percent of those earning more than $150,000 voted, only 24 percent of those earning less than $10,000 went to the polls. That divide is further magnified by age. Among 18-24 year olds earning less than $30,000 turnout was 17 percent in 2014, but among those earning more than $150,000 and older than 65, the turnout rate was nearly four times higher, at 65 percent. There were also racial gaps in voter turnout. In 2014, 46 percent of white voters turned out to vote, compared to 40 percent of black voters, and just 27 percent of Asians and Latinos.

Less than a hundred years ago the suffragettes won the vote by showing they were prepared to die. A little over fifty years ago, civil rights activists were beaten, arrested and murdered before the passage of the Voter Rights Act in 1965 applied a nationwide prohibition against the denial or abridgment of the right to vote. And, right now, in countries around the globe, people are literally dying to vote.

Please don’t throw away your hard fought rights by not registering or by not voting.

There are fundamental differences between the parties and between the rhetoric of the candidates. Listen to what they say, what their chosen mouthpieces say (Sarah Palin for Trump and Phil Robertson for Cruz, for example), fact check them and then get out there and exercise your right to vote!

It really does matter.

 

 

Video Teaser for Bitter Heart

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Check out this cool video teaser my publisher, Bella Books, put together for my newest book:

Pretty nifty, huh? Makes you want to run right out and buy it, right?

Here’s how:

From my publisher, in paperback or ebook: HERE

From Amazon

Or, get it from your favorite, local bookseller. American Booksellers Association has a searchable list of their members. New Pages also offers a breakdown by state of independent bookstores.

Thanks in advance!

 

 

 

Bitter Heart Has a Release Date!

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I’m proud to report that I’ve gone through the edits and author proof for the January 18, 2016 publication of my next novel — Bitter Heart.

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Pretty, isn’t it? Thanks to Judy Fellows for the cover art!

What is it about you ask?

When her home planet is invaded by the Babwe, royal daughter Julian escapes aboard a trade ship. She must get to the Unity planet and persuade the system government to intervene before all of her people are slaughtered or enslaved. Julian discovers more allies than she expected but her choices have deadly consequences back home. With the fate of her people in the balance, can Julian work fast enough to save them?

You can pre-order it from Bella Books, your local bookseller or, even, from Amazon.

Drenched in Blood

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When I was in junior high I won a shooting competition and the prize included a membership in the National Rifle Association. At the time, the majority of members of the organization were shooting enthusiasts like me or hunters and firearm collectors.

Not so today.

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The National Rifle Association’s primary interest is in the bottom line of gun manufacturers. Selling guns and ammo is big money – in fact, Black Friday gun sales increased about 5% in 2015.

The NRA’s revenues are intrinsically linked to the success of the gun business. Read Blood Money and Blood Money II for a detailed financial breakdown of the National Rifle Association and the millions of dollars firearm companies donate to the NRA sponsor program called the Ring of Freedom.

What’s more, they’re profiting on suicide (the data indicates that the biggest number of gun deaths are suicides) by blocking efforts since 1996 to even study gun violence. The ban on the CDC was extended just weeks after the Charleston, SC church shooting.

It is clear the NRA doesn’t want an end to the mass shootings. And they have enough lawmakers in their pocket to stop any sane efforts toward gun safety. The only call those politicians make will be for prayers after the next mass shooting.

And the next after that.