The NRA has jumped the shark

guncontrol

The National Rifle Association’s response to the Sandy Hook school shootings may be remembered as the point in which they ceased to be taken seriously and started to lose clout .    The responses to President Obama’s proposals and executive orders are over the top.   Here’s a sampling:

Tennessee legislators want to make it a felony for federal agents to enforce federal laws involving guns.

Rand Paul wants Congress to ‘nullify’ executive orders.   Good luck with that Rand – note that Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any Republican President in the last century, but hey, don’t let facts get in the way of your impotent rage.

Impeachment is on the agenda of a few Congressmen who apparently want to cause the Republican party to self-destruct.

In Texas one representative wants to “ban gun laws.”

In Wyoming there is also a move to make enforcement of these laws a felony.

Then you get the usual caterwauling of people claiming Obama is a Hitler, they’re coming after your guns, the country is going to cease being “free” (eyes rolling).

So, all that said, you must think I’m a radical gun control advocate, right?   Hardly.   I don’t own a gun nor do I want one, and I think that people who need a gun to feel secure are saying more about their own internal state than they are about their actual safety.    People who think they need guns so they can rise up against the government some day are simply delusional (remember Timothy McVeigh)?   But in general most people who own guns do so responsibly, hunters take safety seriously, and guns are a part of American culture.

US murder rates are higher than almost all industrialized states - but not by so much that there is a compelling argument that gun control would make a statistical difference

US murder rates are higher than almost all industrialized states – but not by so much that there is a compelling argument that gun control would make a statistical difference

I do think the reaction by the extremists is rooted in delusion.  Rather than rationally accepting that gun violence is a problem and that in the rest of the industrialized world gun deaths are very low (and total deaths are much lower to – people aren’t just finding other ways to kill), they fall into a weird narrative about tyranny and Obama’s goons coming to get their guns.

There are rational reasons to be skeptical of gun control.   A lot of our murders come in places where the causes are socio-economic.   Poverty, gang activity, and a lack of effort by the rest of the society to address those problems creates sub cultures where violence, drug use, and crime is the norm.    In places like Maine where gun ownership is among the highest levels in the country we are very safe.  Not because of guns, but we have a stable and relatively peaceful culture.   There are problems of rural poverty – spousal abuse, substance abuse, petty crime, etc.  It’s just that the kind of gun violence associated with inner cities doesn’t reach here.

Cars kill as many people each years as guns -- but that's why they're heavily regulated

Cars kill as many people each years as guns — but that’s why they’re heavily regulated

So what we need is a sensible discussion.   The executive orders people going crazy about are bland.  You can read the list here.   No gun grabbing, no huge federal intervention on Congressional powers.   Many have nothing to do with guns, but with school safety.   Some focus on building a dialogue or making cooperation between federal agencies easier.  A couple deal with mental health issues.

That is why the NRA, now up with an ad that uses President Obama’s daughters to label him a hypocrite (their “logic”: if the President’s family gets Secret Service protection it’s hypocritical not want armed guards in every school) has to be ridiculed and belittled as much as possible.    They have jumped the shark.   They’re making dubious claims about their membership going way up, and launching threats and attacks against any politician that dares question their extremist orthodoxy.   They don’t want dialogue, they don’t want to admit that gun availability might cause more gun related crimes and deaths, they’re taking an ideological stand and trying to pretend it’s about liberty.

Gun owners, don’t fall for this!   Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that people wanting reasonable gun control legislation are would be Nazis ready to grab full power.    Even if the President’s legislative proposal were adopted as is (which is not going to happen – if something passes it will be a compromise) the US would still have the loosest gun control laws of the industrialized world.   Most gun owners would not be affected one iota.

The problems mentally ill people have getting access to care are immense; that needs to be addressed

The problems mentally ill people have getting access to care are immense; that needs to be addressed

And maybe gun control legislation isn’t a good idea.   Maybe we need to approach the problem from a different direction.   I don’t know.   But we need dialogue.  We need to be reasonable.   We need to accept that there are sound arguments on each side, and that most people are neither gun nuts nor gun haters.   Dump the hyperbole, reject the delusion that the US government is turning into a tyranny or that Obama is somehow a would be Hitler.  Replace emotion and fear with logic and evidence.

Yet if the NRA and other extremists continue their over the top hyperbolic rants and tirades, it’s no use reasoning with them.   Mock them as ridiculous and absurd.   Weaken their public image.   Then find people on both sides who are willing to talk and listen to each other.

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  1. #1 by GiRRL_Earth on January 17, 2013 - 14:27

    Scott, your posts are always so very educational.

    My dad is a former Navy guy (fought in Korea) and the first thing out of his mouth (after the shooting in CT) was: “…control the ammo, but first we have to wait until all the ammo that’s out in the street is used up.” I didn’t follow his logic, not at first, it took me a bit but then I got it.

    I wonder how the NRA (how large are they anyway) would feel if it was one of their own kids?

  2. #2 by lbwoodgate on January 17, 2013 - 14:32

    Cogent points as usual. Thanks Scott

  3. #3 by lee1978 on January 17, 2013 - 18:04

    I grew up in a household where my dad hunted and guns were not unknown to me. I was taught gun safety. This was also reiterated when I had to take a gun safety course as part of my black belt training (why disarm someone if you can’t safely and responsiblly take care of the weapon afterwards?) My point is that I have nothing against typical hunting weaponry that is usually used responsibly. But the type of weapon that is used in these tragedies is almost always very high powered, weaponry that is not your daddy’s deer rifle. I can’t think of a true reason why the average citizen needs that type of weaponry and totally support banning such things. That said, we need as a country to have a much harder look at mental health and the way we do not adequately address the needs of the mentally ill or provide support systems for the families of those who are ill.

    • #4 by pino on January 18, 2013 - 01:58

      I can’t think of a true reason why the average citizen needs that type of weaponry

      Me either.

      and totally support banning such things.

      I don’t think that you or I feeling that a certain weapon isn’t needed demonstrates sufficient cause to restrict the Liberty of citizens.

      • #5 by lbwoodgate on January 18, 2013 - 07:12

        “I don’t think that you or I feeling that a certain weapon isn’t needed demonstrates sufficient cause to restrict the Liberty of citizens.”

        This is really becoming a soppy, overplayed sentiment, IMO. The fact that some people can have a firearm to serve the intent of what they feel the 2nd amendment right is about isn’t violated because they can’t have anything and everything they want in terms of firepower. Even Justice Anton Scalia recognized that in his majority statement from the recent case of District of Columbia v Heller where he reminded people that where the “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”, neither is it unlimited. “It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

        It should also be pointed out that the NRA leadership prior to 1980 felt like most people that there should be a limit to guns owned and types of guns. NRA President Karl Frederick in 1934 stated that “I don’t believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”

  4. #6 by pino on January 17, 2013 - 18:15

    The National Rifle Association’s response to the Sandy Hook school shootings may be remembered as the point in which they ceased to be taken seriously and started to lose clout .

    This is true of almost everyone who is weighing in on the issue.

    Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any Republican President in the last century, but hey, don’t let facts get in the way of your impotent rage.

    Why did you include the word “republican”?

    Then you get the usual caterwauling of people claiming Obama is a Hitler, they’re coming after your guns, the country is going to cease being “free” (eyes rolling).

    Kooks from both parties call the other president Hitler all the time.

    So what we need is a sensible discussion. The executive orders people going crazy about are bland.

    Both true.

    We need to look at see that gun crime is trending down in America. We need to see that levels of violent crime in America are much lower than in other countries that ban guns, like England. Then we need to try and figure out how to describe and quantify our “issue”. And THEN define our goal.

    As it turns out, Obama’s orders are, indeed, bland. But they also don’t do anything to fix the issues that have been our last three mass shootings. And neither do his legislative goals.

    That is why the NRA, now up with an ad that uses President Obama’s daughters to label him a hypocrite (their “logic”: if the President’s family gets Secret Service protection it’s hypocritical not want armed guards in every school)

    Again, I agree. The comparison is nuts and I’m a believer in leaving the kids out of the discussion. With that said, a VERY good example of hypocrisy is the decision to hire armed guards by that crazy newspaper in NY that outed gun owners.

    Replace emotion and fear with logic and evidence.

    Very good advice. For the right as well as the left!

  5. #7 by Titfortat on January 17, 2013 - 22:40

    Culture, culture. For the most part Switzerland is armed to the teeth but surprisingly they arent playing OK corral, at least not on the same level as the USA.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Switzerland

    • #8 by lbwoodgate on January 18, 2013 - 07:20

      “Switzerland is armed to the teeth” in part because they are required to as part of their military service. Just like Israel.

      Ezra Klein’s blog also noted “Both countries require you to have a reason to have a gun. There isn’t this idea that you have a right to a gun. You need a reason. And then you need to go back to the permitting authority every six months or so to assure them the reason is still valid.” SOURCE

  6. #9 by Titfortat on January 18, 2013 - 09:13

    Ibw

    The problem then isnt guns but the policies associated with having and maintaining one. The most important distinction between the two nations though is that the USA is the inherently more violent one. Im not so sure policy will make any difference in that regard. By the way, the 2nd amendment is the reason and the right to have a gun.

    • #10 by lbwoodgate on January 18, 2013 - 09:34

      “The problem then isnt guns but the policies associated with having and maintaining one. The most important distinction between the two nations though is that the USA is the inherently more violent one.”

      I’m with you so far tft.

      “Im not so sure policy will make any difference in that regard. “

      That depends on what policy you are talking about. Containing gun violence incorporates many policies of which some measure of restricting assault weapons and their extended magazines is only part of. I have written pretty thoroughly on that here and here.

      We need to address our problems with violence in this country, much which stems from certain religious values about women’s role in society that allows some men to think it is their right to be abusive to women. Granted, a sick interpretation of scriptures but none the less a real one. Violence in the home between parents gets perpetuated with the next generation so unless someone can intervene to break the cycle it will only get more pronounced. This is where improving our mental health care in this country will pay dividends and reduce violence of all types, including the more deadly gun violence.

      ” By the way, the 2nd amendment is the reason and the right to have a gun.”

      Yes but we need to have a national conversation that opens up what this really entails. Again I have written on this too here and here.

  7. #11 by Alan Scott on January 18, 2013 - 18:34

    When you have a right you do not have to give a reason to the Government why you dare exercise that right. Exactly why do you need to speak your mind ? Every 6 months you should need to assure your rulers why you still need your right of free speech .

    • #12 by lbwoodgate on January 18, 2013 - 23:47

      “When you have a right you do not have to give a reason to the Government why you dare exercise that right.”

      That’s really a moot point Allen. The question is when your presumption of a right exceeds reasonable limits why do we have to accept that as an absolute? Surely you’re not saying that a divine (unalienable) right is to possess more firepower than a small 3rd world army.

  8. #13 by Alan Scott on January 19, 2013 - 08:35

    Ibwoodgate ,

    You have shifted the point from Israel and Switzerland’s requirement of a Citizen having to justify owning a firearm every 6 months, which you seem to want here, to saying that an assault rifle is having more firepower than a 3rd world army . So which is it ? Anyway I will address both points .

    I say if the firearm is legal you do not have to tell government why anything . We have a limit now on the 3rd world firepower of Americans. A citizen cannot own a fully auto gun such as a machine gun that works .

    I do not say the right to firearms is divine . It is only a few words in the Constitution . Those words are as fragile as the document itself . Both are under assault constantly . Maybe there is something in that little document that you care enough about to defend against what I want to ban .

    • #14 by pino on January 19, 2013 - 10:49

      I do not say the right to firearms is divine .

      Well now, wait….

      The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Given to us by the Divine.

      I am given the right to defend myself, my family and property. There is no expectation that my ability to exercise that right be infringed.

      • #15 by Scott Erb on January 19, 2013 - 12:23

        Well, you exist and have a right to do whatever you want, limited only by your capabilities and context. Governments, notions of “rights,” laws, and all that are human creations. We’re responsible for them, we can think that our own beliefs about what should be rights are from God, but absent proof that’s just a theory. And “rights” like that are relatively recent constructs.

      • #16 by pino on January 19, 2013 - 12:49

        notions of “rights,” laws, and all that are human creations.

        Well, using your view of things, we humans have created a nation that our rights exist outside of the government. That is, the government doesn’t give us our rights, we have them a priori.

        And “rights” like that are relatively recent constructs.

        I’ve been watching the West Wing. Bartlet had a a great quote, “It never occurred to anyone to write this down; We hold these truths to be self evident….”

        Whether literally true or a construct as you argue, the system we find ourselves in is defined surrounding the sovereign of the individual, of individual rights and a limited government. Further, my rights do not exist in order that I may trample yours.

        I have not yet seen a compelling argument that allows the government, the federal government, to restrict the class of firearms that we’re talking about.

      • #17 by lbwoodgate on January 19, 2013 - 13:05

        Pino,

        ” the system we find ourselves in is defined surrounding the sovereign of the individual, of individual rights and a limited government.”

        I’m not sure this is entirely true. The emphasis on the individual may be a bit exaggerated especially following the shift from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution. We have responsibilities as citizens of this government of, by and for the people which means from time to time the self must take a backseat for the greater good.

        I worry more about a government heavily controlled by wealthy interests than I do one that seeks to create a level playing field for all of its citizens, even if that means I must make some minor sacrifices.

      • #18 by Scott Erb on January 19, 2013 - 15:55

        I agree that we have constructed a very solid set of rights, and unlike most past societies we have put the individual of high importance relative to the society. I think we may take that too far sometimes, but that’s part of the cultural development of the western world (individuation). I’m not sure what actions should be taken, I just think the rhetoric from the NRA and some in Congress is so over the top that it is self-defeating.

      • #19 by pino on January 19, 2013 - 17:50

        I think we may take that too far sometimes, but that’s part of the cultural development of the western world (individuation).

        I think the part people forget is that at the state/county or city level, a government can regulate much more heavily than at the federal level.

        This is why I only mock cities like New York and San Francisco. While I think they are CRAZY for their regulations, I absolutely think they are within their power to do so. In a way and manner that the federal government can’t.

        If you wanna ban guns, some guns or some magazines, lobby your city council. Even Wyatt Earp restricted guns within city limits. And NO ONE would accuse him of big government!

    • #20 by lbwoodgate on January 19, 2013 - 11:52

      “I do not say the right to firearms is divine . It is only a few words in the Constitution . Those words are as fragile as the document itself . Both are under assault constantly “

      In more ways than one Allen and most of the time it doesn’t come directly from the gubbermint

  9. #21 by Alan Scott on January 22, 2013 - 17:58

    Ibwoodgate ,

    ” In more ways than one Allen and most of the time it doesn’t come directly from the gubbermint ”

    Please elaborate . Though at this time the threats to the fragile document are all coming from the guv ment . And we know who rules now , don’t we ?

    • #22 by lbwoodgate on January 23, 2013 - 05:16

      It surprises that a smart fellow like you would suggest that government isn’t highly influenced by people who have connections with corporate lobbyists. Surely you are familair with what corporate cronyism is all about right? And though both Democrats and Republicans have participated in this, today’s GOP is on record of being the water boy for special corporate interests.

      I have written on this here, here and here

      Next, I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). An organization formed out of corporate interests that sit behind closed doors with state legislators and create model legislation they benefit from and often citizens and consumers do not, as the these elected officials take it back to their legislatures and pass the bills off as their own.

      Here’s a good place to start reading about ALEC from the Center for Media and Democracy who are credited with http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed exposing ALEC

      ALEC’s Economic Policies Do More Harm Than Good, New Report Shows

    • #23 by lbwoodgate on January 23, 2013 - 05:21

      And just so you’ll know, it was the NRA working through ALEC that crafted the law we have now come to know as “stand your ground” or the “castle law”

    • #24 by lbwoodgate on January 23, 2013 - 05:23

      Just curious too. What specific threats are YOU seeing from the guv ment? I know there are some there. Wondering if you see them too.

    • #25 by lbwoodgate on January 23, 2013 - 05:30

      Here’s another piece I wrote about how the lobbyist for the plastics industry, the American Chemistry Council (ACC), has worked with highly-placed, corporate friendly education officials in California, to positively promote their customers products. Products that threaten consumers in more ways than one.

  10. #26 by Alan Scott on January 24, 2013 - 22:21

    lbwoodgate ,

    I agree with you about crony capitalism . Well at least in part I do . That you admit Democrats do it gives me hope . Republicans are for free enterprise , which of course means they do not openly hate corporations . Liberals are devious . They run a protection racket .

    You asked for threats to the Constitution. Feinstein just attacked the Second Amendment . There is also the debasing of the Constitution by inflating the sheer number of rights . The worst is not even by Obama. The worst assault was by Chief Justice Roberts, who rewrote the Constitution to justify ObamaCare .While you no doubt applaud the result, you must in good conscious agree that the method was atrocious .

    • #27 by lbwoodgate on January 25, 2013 - 07:12

      Alan,

      “You asked for threats to the Constitution. Feinstein just attacked the Second Amendment .”

      Seriously. Feinstein’s effort to reinstate the assault weapons ban is a far cry from attacking the 2nd amendment. Over 600 weapon styles were omitted from her list and NO ONE’s guns will be taken away from them who have them now. The intent of the 2nd amendment to form a well-regulated militia and allow a person to possess a firearm to feel secure in their home is not violated by Feinstein’s actions.

      “Republicans are for free enterprise , which of course means they do not openly hate corporations”

      This tired old straw man again? Just because some liberals berate a corporate mentality that puts profit over people’s lives doesn’t mean they hate business. This silly talking point is used by the right to push emotional buttons and create a false sense of positions some people have. And the notion that “free markets are free is losing credibility. There’s No Such Thing as a Free Market — Just a Matter of Who Pays for It You might also want to read Why Free-market Economics Is a Fraud

      “The worst assault was by Chief Justice Roberts, who rewrote the Constitution to justify ObamaCare .While you no doubt applaud the result, you must in good conscious agree that the method was atrocious .”

      I don’t think it was atrocious just wrong-headed. Obamacare should have been declared constitutional based on the Commerce Claus, not by congress’s right to tax.

      What I do think is atrocious is that the conservative majorities’ decision on the SC to declare corporations are people and money is speech.

    • #28 by lbwoodgate on January 25, 2013 - 07:17

      I noticed too that you didn’t even mention the real violation of rights Obama and his predecessor are guilty of – privacy rights established in the 4th amendments and their use of drones to assassinate suspected terrorist threats. The latter violates the right of trial by jury. Would it be because these things appear to be used only against Islamic jihadists that make them alright by you?

  11. #29 by Scott Erb on January 24, 2013 - 22:52

    You’re a bit too much into the “two legs bad four legs good” Orwellian territory Alan. Democrats run a protection racket and are devious, but those virtuous Republicans are just for “free enterprise.” Yeah, and I have a bridge to sell you linking Manhattan to Brooklyn. Also, the constitution is a document that gets interpreted. You do not have the power to assert your interpretation as the one true one, that power is given to the Supreme Court. Here’s a cool quote from Thomas Jefferson: “Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment…But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.”

    And he wrote the Declaration of Independence! So if you want to treat the Constitution as some kind of timeless holy writ not to be tampered with or re-interpreted, well, Jefferson would disagree!

  12. #30 by Alan Scott on January 26, 2013 - 09:50

    Scott,

    I believe that you are saying is that it doesn’t matter what is written in the Constitution . Each generation interprets the words to whatever it wants to . I believe that unfortunately is true . It is not supposed to be . If there are needed changes, the amendment route is the correct path .

    I believe that Justices like Roberts are the same kind of people who interpreted Peace Treaties with the native Americans to steal their land . The words do not say what they say, they say what we say they say . I’m glad you are good with that .

    • #31 by Scott Erb on January 26, 2013 - 09:55

      I believe certain core principles should be respected, but how they relate to the context changes over time. At one point separate but equal was deemed in accord with the constitution, and clearly the original intent allowed separate but equal. But as society developed we realized that separate but equal was not in accord with the core principles of the constitution, regardless of the intent of the founders (who were mostly racist – most people were back then).

  13. #32 by a reader on February 2, 2013 - 11:38

    ….and now we see that recent events have made the NRA even more popular as people remember why it exists. Coastal Democrats had forgotten how popular guns are among Democrat voters.

    • #33 by Scott Erb on February 2, 2013 - 12:41

      Looking at the polls the NRA is popular with a certain element – but not the public at large! This is the start of a process that will lead to rational, but limited gun control in far more states, and ultimately at the federal level. It will take awhile, but the country is going a major transformation in thinking, which is very necessary.

      • #34 by a reader on February 2, 2013 - 19:00

        Sorry, Gallup has the NRA at 54% favorable, 1 point higher than Obama.

      • #35 by Scott Erb on February 2, 2013 - 19:03

        If that polls, right, then Obama and the NRA are of equal popularity. I suspect its not all the same people (though there must be some overlap)

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