Even gun owners are irked by the NRA’s ‘foolish’ hypocrisy on a Mike Pence event.

Mike Pence is headed to Dallas on May 4 to speak at the National Rifle Association's leadership forum.

But — there’s a catch!

Mike Pence speaking at the 2014 event in Indiana. Photo by John Gress/Getty Images.


Attendees, um... *drops voice to a whisper *... won’t be allowed to bring their guns to the event.

As the NRA website informs attendees:

“Due to the attendance of the Vice President of the United States, the U.S. Secret Service will be responsible for event security at the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum. As a result, firearms and firearm accessories, knives, or weapons of any kind will be prohibited in the forum prior to and during his attendance.”

But doesn’t that contradict the NRA’s theory that more guns in public spaces will keep everyone safer?

The irony wasn’t lost on many. One of those pointing out the group’s contradiction was Stoneman Douglas student Cameron Kasky.

The Florida teen has been one of the more outspoken advocates calling for gun law reform in the wake of the mass shooting at his school in February, speaking at the March for Our Lives rally and using his large social media platform to promote change.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Kasky shared a screengrab of the NRA’s policy on Twitter, noting the near-comedic level of hypocrisy: “The NRA has evolved into such a hilarious parody of itself.”

His post clearly struck a chord with many followers, amassing over 11,000 retweets and almost 32,000 likes as of this writing.

Fellow Stoneman Douglas classmate Matt Deitsch chimed in, mocking the NRA’s hypocrisy in Kasky’s replies.

“You’re telling me to make the V.P. safe there aren’t any weapons around, but when it comes to children they want guns everywhere?” Deitsch wrote, referring to the NRA’s push to get more guns in schools.

Some pointed out it was the Secret Service’s mandate to prohibit firearms at the event — not the NRA’s. But even then: The fact the NRA was “yielding” to the Secret Service gave off a bad look, according to many Second Amendment supporters.

“Obviously even Republicans and so-called leaders don’t trust the ‘good guys,’” someone wrote on a message board for gun owners, The Washington Post spotted. “I realize it’s the VP, but still makes our whole argument look foolish.”

“In my opinion, the very people that claim to protect the [Second Amendment] should never host an event that requires disarming the good guys,” the post continued. “Sad. No excuses for this… it makes us look stupid.”

The problem isn’t that the NRA is bowing to pressure from the Secret Service.

It’s that the entire notion that a “good guy with a gun” makes everyone safer is a fallacy propped up by fear-mongering.

It’s an idea that’s certainly not backed by hard data. And, in fact, research suggests just the opposite is true: The U.S. has many more guns than the rest of the developed world, looser gun control laws — and the rates of gun violence to show for it.

If only the NRA cared about everyday Americans’ safety as much as it does the vice president’s.

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Brian Olesen never imagined he would end up homeless.

The former U.S. Air Force medic had led a full and active life, complete with a long career in the medical field, a 20-year marriage, and a love of anything aquatic. But after hip surgery and chronic back pain left him disabled in 2013, he lost his ability to work. Due to changes in eligibility requirements, he couldn't qualify for federal veteran housing programs. His back issues were difficult to prove medically, so he didn't qualify for disability. Though he'd worked his whole life, having no income for five years took its toll. He got evicted from a couple of apartments and found himself living on the streets.

But in 2018, two things completely turned Olesen's life around. He was able to both qualify for disability and to move into an affordable housing community in Miami's Goulds neighborhood called Karis Village.

When people think of affordable housing, they don't usually picture a place like Karis Village. The 88-unit development is brand new, and built with an attention to design that is not always expected for developments that serve as home to people on limited incomes. The apartments have tile floors, marble countertops, and all new appliances and furniture, and the grounds are beautiful and well-kept, with a playground and common areas for residents to gather.

Brian Olesen in his kitchen at Karis VillageCapital One

Karis Village isn't just a housing development; it's a home and a community. Half of the units are set aside for veterans who have experienced homelessness, like Olesen. The other half are largely occupied by single-parent families.

"To me, this building was just a gift," says Olesen. "All of the different parties that got together to put this building together… making half the building available to veterans. We've got no place to go."

Addressing veteran homelessness was one of the goals of Karis Village, which was built through a partnership that included Carrfour Supportive Housing — a mission-driven, not-for-profit affordable housing organization in southern Florida — and Capital One's Community Finance team. More than just an affordable place to live, the community has full-time staff on hand to help coordinate services—from addiction recovery programs to transportation options to job search and placement. Also included are peer counselors who provide emotional and psychological support for residents.

Karis Village, an affordable housing community in Miami, Florida.Capital One

Carrfour President and CEO Stephanie Berman says the core function of the services team on site is to build a supportive community.

"Often when you think of folks leaving homelessness and coming into housing, you think of shelters or some kind of traditional housing," she says. "You don't really think about a community, and that's really what we build and what we operate. What we're really striving to create is community. We find that our families thrive when you create a sense of community."

The intention to create a supportive community at Karis Village was a priority from the get go. Fabian Ramirez, a Capital Officer on Capital One's Community Finance team, says the bank did a listening tour in southern Florida to explore community development and affordable housing options in the area and to hear what was most needed. After deciding to partner with Carrfour, the bank provided not only an $8 million construction loan and a $25 million low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) investment to help build Karis Village, but it also kicked in a $250,000 social purpose grant to help fund the social support services that would be put in place for residents.

"It's not just all about providing the brick and mortar," says Ramirez. "It's about being able to contribute to the sustainability of the development and of the lives of the people who move into the building."


Capital One

Olesen says he and his fellow residents benefit greatly from the network of support services offered in the building. He says a counselor comes to meet with him once a month, sometimes right in his apartment. He also gets help maintaining a connection with the Veteran Affairs office. Other services include social workers and counselors for drug addiction and alcoholism.

Olesen loves being around other veterans, and he says hearing the sound of children playing keeps the community lively. He says anywhere else he could afford to live on disability wouldn't be nearly as nice and would likely involve shared kitchens and bathrooms and neighborhoods you wouldn't want to go out in at night.

If it weren't for Karis Village, Olesen says he doesn't know where he would be today: "I had nowhere to go and this is a safe, beautiful place to spend my retirement."

"I don't think they could have done a much better job of putting this place together and supplying us with what we need," he says. "I have so much appreciation for the ability to have a place to live. And then you add to that that it's beautiful and completely furnished and you didn't need to bring anything—I don't know what more you could ask for."

Karis Village and another development for veterans built the same year enabled the neighborhood of Goulds to meet the requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to declare an end to veteran homelessness in the area.

Ending veteran homelessness altogether is a complex task, but communities like Karis Village show how it can be done—and done well. When government agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporate funding programs come together to solve big problems, big solutions can be built and maintained.

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