The NRA-How Disappointing, How Predictable

Before we heard the NRA leadership speak up on Friday it
sounded as if they were humbled by the events in Newtown, CT but when they
spoke on television in that very odd media event, on the last day in the Mayan
calendar, they were not in the least apologetic. Now I understand why guys like
to use the phrase “double down” so much because that is exactly what the NRA
did. “The only thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a
gun,” they said. I am not sure this would past the tests of logic, or that if a
Venn drawing were made of this statement, it would be at all accurate. Let me
just mention two possibilities that are not considered in this tautology: 1) if
the gun was not available in the first place the bad guy would not have the
gun, and, 2) If the bad guy happened to be a mentally ill young person mental
health intervention might prevent the act of desperation. The media is
reminding us that there was an armed guard at Columbine and he was unable to
stop the killers.

The NRA recommended a National Shield Program for schools
which would place a security guard with a gun in every school. They showed no
interest in limiting the kinds of guns available to citizens or limiting the
availability of clips containing large numbers of bullets. They insist that we
need these guns to keep our government honest and to dissolve our government
should it become necessary. That certainly is the intent of the Constitution,
although after seeing some of the radical ideas held by some of my fellow
Americans I fear that it would be possible for a small minority to cause an
inordinate amount of grief if they so chose, and it seems possible that they
could so choose at any moment. Our country is a lot bigger than it was when the
Constitution was written, with a much larger population and more lethal
weapons.

The NRA made a scathing argument against violent video
games, music, and movies without so much as one consideration for another
Constitutional guarantee which is often cited by those who create these kinds
of items, a guarantee known as the Freedom of Speech amendment which is every
bit as difficult to like when it is used to protect things we don’t like or
which we don’t think are healthy influences in our society.

I do not believe that we are free to harm each other. We
hold to the ideals of the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness
for all, not just for some. Even in a free society freedom is not absolute.
When we own a house we are admonished that we hold it for purposes of quiet
enjoyment. We are always asked to be mindful of our neighbors. No one is
suggesting banning all guns. Hunters and gun enthusiasts will be able to
possess their guns as long as they are responsible and keep their guns safe.
Limiting guns that fire large multiples of bullets without reloading seems
perfectly reasonable but not when you propose it to a group of people who are
anything but reasonable.

The NRA must believe that they alone know how to read the
Constitution, that they have a direct line to the forefathers because they
defend all gun ownership with belligerent inflexibility. If they need guns to
defend themselves in the event that our government turns totalitarian then why
not just bury a cache in the backyard and be done with it. Twenty, six and
seven year old children died, hundreds of children have been traumatized by
witnessing these incomprehensible assassinations.

Who does the NRA remind me of? They remind me of the Republicans
who refuse to raise any taxes. By refusing to bend they have a control over the
American dialogue about guns which is totalitarian in nature and contrary to
the very freedom they say they are trying to protect. The NRA is as extreme and
out-of-control as those extremists in the Republican Party and they raise my
hackles in exactly the same way. I just can’t listen to them without getting
angry because I know that they do not want a dialogue about anything. They just
want to have their way. The oxymoron inherent in this authoritarian approach to freedom should be obvious to everyone. And yet, in spite of everything I think I know about the NRA and
despite how important I feel it is to end their control of America’s gun
discussion, I bet we will find that we cannot budge this group of extremists
and that is a sad state of affairs. I hope this impasse will someday be breached.

 

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