If it is true, as reported, that a majority of members of the NRA want universal background checks, and are willing to see the curbing of high capacity magazines, and may even slightly favor the extension of a ban on certain assault weapons, then why is the NRA leadership bent on overturning these proposals? Why? Because they are protecting, not their membership, or children in schools, or young people everywhere, but they are protecting their elitist status, their positions, their right-wing ideology, their power and the manufacturers of guns and ammunition. Why else would they, as elected representatives of their members, act in an opposite direction from them?
The reactions of the NRA leadership to the common-sense proposals of the President are reminiscent of the “Pinocchio-like” untruths of the Romney Campaign. Almost everything that has been said by the NRA leadership, and their lackeys in Congress, has been rated untrue - at least 4 Pinocchios - for their basis in utter falsehood.
To characterize the President’s proposals as an “attack” on second-amendment rights is an outright Pinocchio. No legal gun-owner would lose his/her right to his/her legal guns as a result of the passage of any of the President’s proposals! So what it comes down to is that the leadership of the NRA has decided to defend the right of criminals, of the mentally challenged, illegal gun-runners, people who have a documented history of violent acts, to own guns. They are not defending the 2nd amendment rights of hunters, target shooters, skeet shooters, competitors, or collectors, because the legal rights of these persons are not threatened by these proposals. The NRA leadership has missed the target!
For instance, the assertion that the states that object to any laws passed under the President’s proposals can nullify those laws in their states, is not only absurd on its face, it bespeaks ignorance of the ruling of the Supreme Court that federal laws cannot be overridden or nullified by states. This is simply “crazy talk”; it has no place in a real debate on the issue of gun control. Yet, among others, the Governor of Mississippi and the junior senator from Kentucky made these assertions recently, and they should know better.
Or, to demean the President by saying that his Executive orders indicate someone who has a “king complex,” is a epithet that has no business in this debate. In fact, it bespeaks an ignorance of the place of Executive orders. They are restricted to current law; they cannot promulgate new law, and they generally deal with agencies and offices that fall under the direction of the Executive, or with regulations that can be amended by the Executive. Nowhere in the Executive Orders on gun control is there anything that approaches decrees of a king or dictator. If the radical right-wingers disagree, they should point to specific orders that are examples of legislating. Here are the proposals (and perhaps those who have made these charges ought to actually read them):
1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
11. Nominate an ATF director.
12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.
16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.
It is time to recognize that the takeover of our government by gun lobbyists and NRA officers is akin to the takeover of Congress by the lawyers, officers and board members of large corporations, banks, and other financial institutions. Except that the takeover by the NRA leadership and lobbyists does not necessarily constitute a plutocracy. It constitutes a takeover by a cabal who believe that they alone have the mission, the correct interpretation, the protection of gun owners, and of the rights granted by the 2nd amendment to the Constitution. This is known, in some quarters, as a rule by a cabal, otherwise called rule by a junta.
A lobby this strong is a threat to other rights guaranteed by the Constitution, simply because once one puts forth the primacy of one right - to own guns - other rights are affected. For instance, a right to safety from irresponsible owners is not protected. The right to a contrary opinion on the 2nd amendment is not allowed to exist, thus trampling the right to protest or petition, or even the right to speak out. Lack of responsibility on the part of some gun owners can also be the final denial of rights to life, liberty and property without due process of law, all of which can be taken away in an unguarded moment by a gun left unattended. Many children have experienced this denial of life as they have been killed by guns owned by friends, relatives or even parents. The right to assemble peaceably can be denied by the threat of gun carry laws allowing people to carry concealed guns in public areas. The right to bear arms is not an absolute right, but as with all rights, must be circumscribed with certain responsibilities in order for citizens to have an equal chance at life and liberty.
The elite leaders of the NRA do not believe in protecting other rights to the extent that they protect 2nd amendment rights, and that is wrong. They cannot even bring themselves to support a universal background check so that we can limit people with certain aberrations or flaws from owning a weapon. They cannot bring themselves to support a ban on high capacity magazines simply because they want no limitations on ammunition just as they want no limitations on guns. This, in spite of the fact that such high capacity clips are used most often to kill people, not animals. In short, they cannot allow any limitations on guns or ammunition because such limitations represent to them a limitation of the basic right to bear arms.
Such obstinacy is caused by the flawed idea that one allowed limitation leads to a slippery slope ending in the elimination of the right to bear arms. If such an argument had any credibility then every other freedom or right that faces limitations would also be eliminated. But freedom of speech, for instance, which is circumscribed by all kinds of limitations and restrictions, such as limitation on hate speech or speech that bears false witness, is still alive and well. So is freedom of the press, although slander or libel is not allowed. The complete paranoia of the NRA leadership is attributable to their fear of losing their positions and their power, not their guns.
The biggest lie used by these intransigent leaders is their charge that our government will be coming after the guns of law-abiding citizens once any limitations are allowed to be imposed. Such drivel. What evidence do they have that the government has any interest in such folly? The only interest the government has in confiscating guns is when people use guns to disobey the law. So yes, guns have been confiscated: from criminals, from people who traffic in illegal guns, from those who commit crimes against people or property, from those who intend to attack police or firemen or the military, or are committed to fomenting rebellion against the legally established order (the republic; the elected government).
In this respect, we must bring forth the final falsity that the NRA has the right to defend itself against the government if the government passes laws that it does not like, or that it feels abrogates their 2nd amendment rights. The leadership of the NRA, and those of its members who hold this false notion, need to be reminded that this is a democracy, and that the citizenry has not elected the NRA as the arbiters or defenders of 2nd amendment rights, or any other rights. The NRA has designated itself to this role, but are legitimate only insofar as they recognize their limited mission as defined in the law.
The threat of a renegade government attacking legal gun owners to take away their right to own guns is nothing but a manufactured excuse for preventing gun violence restrictions. There is no recognized right of NRA members to defend the constitution against a renegade government. An informed public needs to put the NRA in its place. The NRA needs to know that they are nothing but an association, established under the laws and regulations of the federal government (IRC 501(c)), subject to those rules, and to the structures of that law and to their application (and their charter) which defines their mission.
They do not have the right to threaten the rest of us with an armed rebellion against our duly established government. Such a threat borders on Treason (at the least, insurrection) and should not be tolerated by the citizenry, anymore than we unquestionably tolerate any other organization that claims to speak for all the people, or claims the right to foment an insurrection. One of the important things this junta easily (and conveniently) forgets is that the Constitution gives power and authority solely to the federal Congress to “provide for the common defense of the United States”; to “provide for the calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.”
Finally, we have to assert that this debate about gun violence does not really target the right to bear arms. That right is not being questioned, although it should be limited in a responsible way, just as all other rights are. This debate has to do with violence perpetrated upon our children (and other vulnerable people) by those who should not have a gun in their possession. That is the kernel of this controversy, and the target of the President’s proposals. We cannot allow our children to be targeted by people who would do them harm, and even take their lives.
The NRA leadership is dead wrong in simply proposing more guns (and gun carriers) in schools as the way to protect our children, while erroneously asserting that “guns are not the problem.” While being challenged as citizens to embrace a broader and deeper examination of the violence that penetrates and permeates our world view, let us not forget the children (and the teachers) who died in Sandy Hook Elementary School because of a deranged killer using assault weapons. Those children represent our own children and grandchildren and we must do all we can to protect our children, not only from all forms of violence that could threaten their well-being, but specifically from gun violence which can quickly alter or end their existence. Unlike the NRA leadership, we must stay on target!