For weeks now, since the tragic murders of 20 sweet children and six dedicated educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, (one month ago today, and that is some sad anniversary) we've been in the middle of some serious, long overdue gun control arguments. The gun nuts see any form of gun control as "an infringement of their right to bear arms". (Oh my God, I can barely type that one more time. It's so stupid. Even in quotes, it's stupid. But I must go on.)
The others, those who understand the need for gun control--gun owners and non-owners alike--are the ones who aren't nuts. (Just so we're clear.) But then we have the NRA. The National Rifle Association. The organization that began life in the 1870's as a mainstream group dedicated to conservation, aligning themselves with hunters and marksmen and Boy Scouts, fagawdsake.
Nobody remembers that old NRA, and nobody's happier about that than the new NRA. That old bunch were pansies compared to this new bunch. Now it's not so much about puny single-shot, short range rifles and self-protection pistols as it is about end-of-the-world weapons and beyond--those big guns necessary to overthrow a rogue government when the time comes. (And apparently it can't come soon enough.)
The evolution of the NRA from a friendly sportsman's club to staunch supporter of weaponry worthy of Armageddon is recounted in a chilling, eye-opening Washington Post article titled, "How NRA's true believers converted a marksmanship group into a might gun lobby",written by ,
One small part (my emphasis):
After years of lobbying by the NRA, Congress passed the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, which, among other gun-friendly provisions, eased restrictions on interstate sales of firearms and expressly prohibited the federal government from creating a database of gun ownership.
A huge NRA triumph, the media declared. Some lawmakers said off the record that they would have voted against the act but feared retaliation from the gun lobby. And yet the Second Amendment fundamentalists were furious. The NRA endorsed the act even though it included a last-minute amendment pushed by gun-control advocates that further tightened the restrictions on machine guns.
So today's NRA has positioned itself as the go-to authority on all things that shoot but are only harmful if they do actual bodily harm. It's not the fault of the weapons, it's the fault of the bad guys (or even the good guys) who get hold of them and use them in a dangerous manner--namely by pulling the triggers.
Then, of course, there's that whole fuzzy Second Amendment thing, made ever so much clearer when the Supreme Court declared the words "well-regulated" and "militia" just so much filler on the way to giving individual citizens carte blanche to own any weapon ever manufactured in this country or elsewhere, and to buy ammunition for said any weapon known to man, and to do it without having to give up even a smidgeon of privacy by having to divulge names and addresses . (This was the very same Supreme Court majority that gave corporations the right to be ordinary people if it meant they could screw the rest of us and make piles of money doing it.)
So in the aftermath of the school shootings, the White House decided it would be a good idea to attempt to make nice with the NRA, considering how much more powerful they are than the people calling for some semblance of gun control sanity. They called on good old Joe Biden to meet with the mighty NRA and a handful of lesser gun groups, thinking (I'm guessing) that good old Joe could maybe talk the talk without having to, you know, walk the walk.
Lord knows what went on behind closed doors, but when the Gun Guys ("gun ban activists" they like to call themselves) came out and said they were "disappointed" in the meeting, I went on such a cheering jag. . .
Joe, bless his heart, didn't cave. He thought the meeting was "productive." (Ouch) He said something will be done. (Oouuch) And the NRA is not happy.
Their full statement:
The National Rifle Association of America is made up of over 4 million moms and dads, daughters and sons, who are involved in the national conversation about how to prevent a tragedy like Newtown from ever happening again. We attended today's White House meeting to discuss how to keep our children safe and were prepared to have a meaningful conversation about school safety, mental health issues, the marketing of violence to our kids and the collapse of federal prosecutions of violent criminals.
We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment. While claiming that no policy proposals would be "prejudged," this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners — honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans. It is unfortunate that this Administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen. Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works — and what does not.
Awww. What a genteel word, "disappointed". So much more grown-up than "pissed." But did you catch that last part? Where they say, "[W]e will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works — and what does not."
So it's another buying spree, is it? They think they can buy the hearts and minds of certain members of congress and that'll be the end of all this nonsense? It's a simple method, tried and true, with scads of past successes, but here's hoping when it comes to sane gun control we really mean it this time.
The press latched onto the White House meetings with the NRA with barely a mention of the other meetings also held as part of the task force on gun control. Biden and White House staff members met with educators, medical groups, victims organizations and other proponents of tougher gun laws in an effort to let all voices be heard on an issue as important and seemingly intractable as this one. This was not a privileged meeting afforded to the NRA only, and I doubt they were the only ones who were "disappointed."
It could be that "disappointed" takes on a whole new meaning when you're entering a White House presided over by occupants not bearing your stamp of approval. The NRA fought hard to move the Obama team out of the White House, and there were moments when they must have thought they had it in the bag. They should have been holding court in a more receptive Romney White House, but there you are. Things happen, no matter how heavy the artillery against it.
In the February, 2012 issue of the NRA magazine, American Rifleman, NRA president David Keene wrote,
"We are all going to have to work from now until November to help Wayne LaPierre make Barack Obama a one-term president. We have defeated anti-Second Amendment presidential wannabes before. Remember Al Gore? After the 2000 race, then-President Bill Clinton lamented that his Vice President would not be moving into the White House because you and I and millions other supporters of the Second Amendment cost him the electoral votes of at least five states--and therefore the Presidency. We did it then and we can do it again."
That myth about Gore's loss thanks to the NRA is more bluster the true believers keep on pushing, and members of congress keep on believing. But what the NRA can't ignore is that Barack Obama won a second term in spite of their best efforts.
And what the rest of us can't ignore is that the NRA will not take that lying down. They'll be up in arms big time over that one. (Proof positive: Gun sales have spiked. Skyrocketed, in fact, with sales of the AR-15, the gun used in the Sandy Hook shootings, right up there among collectors fearing likely banning)
Be warned--the NRA may never, ever forgive us for Obama.
|NRA magazine cover, February, 2012. Depends on what they mean by "All In."|
(Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices.)