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This week we take a SWAT at Patty Sheehan's condo-hostage shenanigans, get ready to take a bullet wound in all 50 states and listen to Newt Gingrich fans discuss a new target-practice immigration policy. BANG!

Photo: Jeff Gore, License: N/A

Jeff Gore

Even worse, we were so distracted by the SWAT officials bursting from a smoky stairwell with riot shieldsthat we hadn’t even noticed the rappelling! A nearby audience member said we didn’t miss much, though – we were told the officers descended from floor to floor at a somewhat leisurely pace while the faux drama was playing out. One young viewer, standing next to us in the elevator, summed up the evening nicely. “It’s a good thing they’re cops,” he told us, “’cause those guys are shitty actors.”

Speaking of bullets flying around for no reason, the long, arduous battle waged by the National Rifle Association to make sure that e’erybody with the slightest violent inclination – or, you know, a concealed weapons permit – is universally allowed the privilege of firing off them there barrels on an American whim (no matter what individual state governments think) may be coming to a close. We covered Florida’s own precarious conceal-carry law (see “Shoot first, ask questions later,” Sept. 30, 2010) when it became apparent that the Sunshine State’s willingness to give anybody a concealed weapons permit had resulted in a high-profile murder in Philadelphia.

Now, a gun-rights bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., has, for the first time in more than a decade of trying, been given a hearing in the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. According to the Ocala Star-Banner, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act would ultimately force all states to respect the permits obtained from concealed-carry states like Florida. The only caveat is that gun toters would have to obey the gun laws of the state they are in, not the state from which they got their permit. How’s them for states’ rights?

“This bill is a step backwards in an effort to enhance gun safety because it would overrule existing judgments enacted by states controlling who should be allowed to carry concealed weapons inside their own borders,” argued U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., according to the Star-Banner.

Perhaps more importantly, the 38 states that refuse permits to those with violent criminal records – and the 29 states that withhold permits from drunks – are basically about to be out of luck. What the NRA wants, the NRA gets.

There’s something entertaining,even addicting about suffering, isn’t there? Why else would we have sat through the entire Tea Party-sponsored debate on the night of Sept. 12, listening to the die-quickly diatribes of the Republican candidates jousting over the question of whether to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? What’s scary, however, is that this queer interest continued on into the following days – and all of a sudden, there we were, on the third floor of the Orlando Public Library, in the midst of the constituency of the East Side Tea Party, listening to Newt Gingrich speak.

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