A FORMER NRA MEMBER CONFESSES
A PERSONAL TALE
Believe it or not, I am a former National Rifle Association (NRA) member. I purchased a firearm while I was in Texas and got a year’s free membership, plus a really nice multitool with a rosewood handle.
I purchased a firearm? Yes, I lived with spouse and dogs in a rural area literally crawling with a variety of poisonous snakes (bad for dogs, children, and two-legged creatures).
I also got an NRA sticker for my back window. I put it there next to my OBAMA sticker and the one that said “Guns don’t kill people. Bullets do.” (I admit I am somewhat taken with Chris Rock’s solution to our gun problem. He thinks we should let people buy almost any gun they want, but we should make each bullet cost something more than a thousand dollars).
During my NRA membership I would get emails telling me about all the horrible infringements on personal liberty that were tearing at the roots of our precious democracy and asking me to contact the legislators responsible for these horrors. The NRA was talking about such totalitarian horrors as “restricting the use of sound suppressors” and “outlawing short barreled shotguns.”
I have to admit that I took some pleasure in writing to legislators and say something like, “I am an active NRA member who supports reasonable firearm safety measures, so just let me say that the only people who need short-barreled shotguns are folks who want their shotgun to be more easily concealable. One of the last things we need in this country is more easily concealable shotguns.”
THE NRA’S RHETORIC
Even back then, the NRA was batshit crazy. Recent events have again proven that their real agenda is not rooted in the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution. Instead, its roots can be found in the mantra of all gun sellers and manufacturer―any gun, anywhere, anytime, and for anybody.
If you think I exaggerate, then take a glance at the recent vicious bile the NRA representatives poured over the attendees at The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at its annual meeting.
The conference occurred just a few days after the horrific Parkland, Florida high school shooting that left killed 17 people, almost all of them high school students.
NRA representative were not originally scheduled to speak at CPAC, but a late change in the program put two NRA speakers on the podium. As you can read below, both “wrapped themselves in the American flag” and spewed hateful filth out to a seemingly receptive audience.
Here are some quotations from Wayne Lapierre’s (head of the NRA) message to The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). [emphasis added]
“The shameful politicization of tragedy — it’s a classic strategy, right out of the playbook of a poisonous movement,” …. “They hate the N.R.A. They hate the Second Amendment. They hate individual freedom.”….
“The N.R.A. will not only speak out,” he said, “we will speak out louder and we will speak out stronger than ever before.”
“Mr. LaPierre, who for around three decades has been the N.R.A.’s public face of unwavering resistance to tighter restrictions on guns, used his speech to play to the fear and mistrust that many on the right have toward government.
He raised the specter of mass gun confiscation. He accused federal agencies like the Justice Department of weaponizing their power to punish political enemies. He warned darkly that “our country will be changed forever” at the hands of socialist conspirators.
“History proves it. Every time in every nation in which this political disease rises to power, its citizens are repressed, their freedoms are destroyed and their firearms are banned and confiscated,” he said, reading slowly and deliberately from his prepared text.
Mr. LaPierre’s appearance each year at the conference, known as CPAC, is typically an event that passes without much notice. But this year, coming just a week after one of the worst school shootings in American history, CPAC seemed to take on the feel of an N.R.A. forum.”
Then, we have highlights from the speech at CPAC given by Dana Loesch, chief spokesperson for the NRA.
“I’m going to say something that some people are going to say is ‘controversial,’” she said. “Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it. I’m not saying you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold… And notice I said crying white mothers because there are thousands of grieving black mothers in Chicago every weekend and you don’t see town halls for them do you?”…
“Washington Navy Yard; Garland, Texas; Ft. Hood; Charleston; Boston; San Bernandino; Orlando; Parkland–do you know what all of these mass tragedy incidents involved? FBI dropped the ball. They dropped the ball.”
“I wanna make the super obvious point. The government has proven they cannot keep you safe, and yet some people want all of us to disarm. You heard that town hall last night–they cheered the confiscation of fire arms, and it was 5,000 people. I had to have a security detail to get out. I wouldn’t have been able to exit that if I did not have a security detail. There were people rushing the stage and screaming ‘burn her.’”
“In Charleston this murderer was able to pass a background check even though he was prohibited possessor because as former FBI Director James Comey said they made a mistake, it was a paperwork error,” she said, later adding: “My condemnation is for those at the FBI… who dropped the ball eight separate times with catastrophic consequences. You know, James Comey, when he wasn’t busy taking directions from Loretta Lynch as to what to call Hillary Clinton’s investigation or writing his self aggrandizing memoirs, you know he said they made a mistake, maybe if he politicized your agency less and your job more we wouldn’t have these problems.”
“They also call Trump a tyrant, but they then say they want the president to confiscate our firearms. Try and figure that one out.”
Only a few years ago, it was rare to see such blatant bullshit and pandering to the most paranoid fevers that swirl up from the fever swamp of far-right American politics. Now, it is just another day in American politics.
The brave students who spoke out after the Florida tragedy about the insanity of allowing citizens buy military-style firearms were, according to some in the NRA’s cheering squad on the web ―“professional agitators paid by George Soros.” This is the political equivalent of the refrain in the old song entitled “limbo rock”―How low can you go? In this policy arena, the answer is unfathomable low.
It seems that in this day and time all countries have a growing right-wing movement seeking greater political power. But, the USA is the only country where such movements and almost all folks calling themselves conservatives are “joined at the hip” with an organization like the NRA.
After statements like these and other NRA babble, it becomes clear that the NRA basically has all the characteristics of a fascist political movement. Don’t think swastikas or black shirts (though American white supremacists do love the NRA), instead think of what it means to be a fascist movement. For those of you who missed it, you can find this argument below.
Below you can also find a two-part series on guns in America. Part one deals with the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution and firearms. The second part is about assault weapons and the politics of gun safety in the USA.
GUNS IN AMERICA AND GUN POLITICS
While we have roughly 95-101 firearms in this country per 100 citizens, the good news is that the percentage of households with firearms is decreasing. Two things are happening. More and more households are urban or suburban, and younger men aren’t as enamored of firearms as they once were.
The density of firearms in the country, however, is not decreasing. It seems that firearms are something like the old potato chip ad― “You can’t eat just one!” With guns, it’s― “You can’t own just one!” Roughly one-quarter of the American population own all the guns in America. Three percent of the US population owns between eight and 140 firearms. This three percent of Americans own half of the guns in this country.
A FINAL NOTE ON LANGUAGE
We must quit using the term―gun control. When seatbelts were mandated, we didn’t talk about car control. When penalties were increased for driving under the influence, we didn’t call it―drug use control. Both reforms were part of a drive to enhance highway safety. So, whenever we talk about regulating firearms, we need to talk about firearm safety. Besides, there is no way we can really “control” guns, but we can make progress in firearm safety.