Saturday, May 14, 2011

NRA's Second Amendment Perception is Fallacious

"Hurray for the NRA!" is the clarion call of gun owners all across America. That’s because the National Rifle Association (NRA), with about four million members, staunchly defends the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. They spend tens of millions in support of favored political candidates, and are the leading special interests group in America. Needless to say, their political clout is vast.

The political influence of the NRA is so significant that Democrats feel in some way they must buy into NRA’s ideology. Disappointingly, President Obama in 2009 signed into law legislation that would allow visitors to carry guns into our national parks and wildlife refuges, and in 2010 made it legal for Amtrak passengers to carry guns and ammunition. And he, like the Republicans, has repeatedly stressed his belief that the Second Amendment “guarantees an individual right to bear arms.”

After the attempted assassination of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, President Obama rejected those who were pushing for stricter gun laws. Later, he wrote an article for the Arizona Daily Star calling for a “new discussion” on an “intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place.”

That “new discussion” has yet to transpire, and with an election coming up in 2012, it’s unlikely it will. Besides, I don’t believe he ever intended to launch that “new discussion.” Obama’s weakness is that he is a politician and feels his tenure is in jeopardy if he doesn’t kowtow to the NRA. Just as he took the risk to approve the assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound and to kill him, we desperately need an Obama who will take the risk to make that call for strong federal gun regulations regardless of NRA’s political influence.

President Obama said, “But one clear and terrible fact remains. A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun.” What Obama alluded to but didn’t have the courage to directly say is that the lack of sufficient and appropriate gun regulation is precisely the reason the Giffords tragedy happened. That happened in Arizona, but it could happen in any state or in the District of Columbia. The lack of federal regulation allows purchasers who cannot buy in one state to acquire a gun in another state. The lack of federal regulation allows gunrunning from the United States to Mexico, where there are strict gun laws. The lack of regulation allows the gangbangers to easily acquire guns.

NRA outgoing President Ron Schmeits, speaking at its April 2011 annual convention, egregiously encouraged members to motivate young people to join NRA, and towards the end of his remarks said, “Get out and shoot, take along a young person.” NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre called for the Justice Department to cease its initiative intended at stopping the flow of weapons to Mexican drug cartels. Although the sting operation initiative known as Project Gunrunner misfired, that initiative would not have been necessary if in the first place congress had enacted strong federal gun laws.

The NRA and gun rights activist associate their freedoms with an unintrusive right to purchase a firearm. In 1776 as now, money gives one that right, not the U.S. Constitution or its Second Amendment. Freedom, therefore, now as in 1776, is reserved for those who can afford it.

Furthermore, just imagine what kind of a world we would be living in if everyone had the right to own any of today’s armament(s) that money could buy. Would Americans, especially those who could not afford a weapon, be safer and would their freedom be enhanced? Under these circumstances, could world peace ever be achievable? I certainly don’t think so, but judging by the number of politicians who support the NRA, the answer to those questions is yes. For those who kowtow to the NRA, yes is the answer they will capitulate to, even though yes may not be in their heart of hearts. And Americans who have a proclivity to violence will always support the right to own a gun, and their answer is yes.

However, if we could turn the pages back to before the Wild West, and if today the Second Amendment were upheld under the dictate of original intent, it would mean that "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" would be limited to flintlock muskets and pistols. And if that were the case, I do agree, America would be safer, we would have greater freedom, and we would have a better chance at world peace.


NRA, April 30, 2011 annual convention

James Hohmann, National Rifle Association members focused on ousting President Obama, Politico