Friday, April 5, 2013 at 8:01 AM

This Gun-Control Debate is Insane!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

The Second Amendment specifically refers to ‘A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.’ Obviously, this is because, when the Constitution was signed 225 years ago, the United States did not have the well regulated police forces, let alone the well regulated armed forces, it has today.

It’s arguable therefore that the only reasonable reading of this amendment in today’s context is that the only people who should have the right to ‘keep and bear arms’ are those in law enforcement and the military (i.e., those actively involved in ensuring national security).

Nevertheless, in deference to American culture, I am prepared to concede that congressional legislation granting citizens the right to keep and bear (at most) six-cylinder handguns and double barrel shotguns (for home protection) and single-shot rifles (for hunting) does not violate the spirit of the Constitution. But I would make it illegal for civilians to possess any other type of firearm or munitions. Period!

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has perpetrated a brazen and unconscionable fraud on the American people by pretending to be arch defenders of their right to keep and bear arms. Because the NRA is just the lobbying arm of gun manufacturers, and its sole mission is to ensure that those manufactures have the right to sell as many guns of every type to as many people as possible. Period!

(“The Second Amendment and Gun Control,” The iPINIONS Journal, December 19, 2012)

nrab-300x205The United States is calling North Korea insane for threatening to launch “merciless” nuclear strikes against it.  Well, I suppose it takes an insane country to know one. After all, one can fairly call the United States insane for vowing to curb gun violence without making any reference to guns.

Frankly, attempting to curb gun violence without controlling the supply of guns is even more foolhardy than attempting to curb drug use without controlling the supply of drugs. And, incidentally, I cannot overstate the importance of recognizing that leaders of the NRA are nothing more than salesmen for gun manufacturers. What’s more they are just trying to get as many Americans politically hooked on guns for the same reason drug kingpins are trying to get as many of them chemically dependent on drugs: M-O-N-E-Y.

Continuing this analogy, allowing the NRA to set the terms for debate on gun control is rather like allowing drug cartels to set the terms for debate on drug trafficking. Hell, if abolishing the Second Amendment would help gun manufacturers sell more guns, the NRA would be lobbying just as aggressively to abolish it.

Recall that virtually every politician in America responded to the shooting massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last December by pledging support for comprehensive gun-control measures, including a ban on assault weapons, a limit on magazine clips (e.g., to no more than 10 rounds), better screening for purchasers with mental illness, and universal background checks.

nraBy contrast, the NRA responded by declaring that armed security guards should be stationed at all schools just as they are at all airports. Most politicians and pundits then reacted to this declaration by accusing the NRA of moral and emotional insensitivity. I reacted by accusing it of amoral and venal greed (i.e., for exploiting the Newtown tragedy to sell more guns).

This is why I find it so utterly stupefying that advocates for gun control have done virtually nothing to name and shame the NRA for having more interest in selling guns than in curbing gun violence. For example, their advocate in chief, President Obama, has been traveling all over the country arguing not for major measures like a ban on assault weapons and limit on high-capacity magazines, but for minor ones like universal background checks.

Incidentally, I argued in my December 19 commentary cited above that it behooves Obama to name and shame his friends in Hollywood who glorify, and thereby perhaps even encourage, gun violence. That he has failed to do so means that the NRA is not the only one to blame for undermining this debate on gun control.

But it speaks volumes that the NRA has set the terms so much in its favor that guns are not even a part of it. Thanks to the woeful influence of Tea-Party jihadists, every right-wing group now thinks that the only way to negotiate with political adversaries is to insist on getting 100 percent of what it wants so that, even if it ends up conceding just 10 percent, its adversaries will be so relieved they’ll consider getting that 10 percent a triumph.

No doubt this is why the NRA is raising holy hell even over background checks despite advocating for these very same checks just years ago as part of its campaign to promote responsible gun ownership. Its advocate in chief, CEO Wayne LaPierre, is now arguing that background checks are an infringement on the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. But here’s what he said about such checks in the aftermath of the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, according to the January 1, 2013 edition of the Huffington Post:

We’ve always supported instant background checks… I mean, the fact is that we’re supporting the bill in the Senate … that provides a check on every sale at every gun show, no loopholes at all.

imagesSo why is Obama trying to convince the nation that passing that same, languishing bill on background checks would constitute a major accomplishment?  Like I said, friggin’ insane!

Nobody is more cynical than I am about the propriety and efficacy of American politics; and nobody is more mindful of the venality and hypocrisy of the NRA. Yet even I did not think we’d be here, nearly four months after Newtown, facing the prospect of not having enough congressional support to pass even universal background checks. Especially given that, according to a Quinnipiac poll published this week, 91 percent of the American people favor such checks.

Of course, given the near-universal media coverage and plaudits Connecticut is getting for passing unprecedented gun-control measures earlier this week, you might think that I’m minimizing the effect gun-control advocates are having against the NRA.  Well, that is until you juxtapose what Connecticut has done with a report in yesterday’s edition of New York magazine under the sobering and self-explanatory headline, “Post-Newtown, States Passed More Gun-Rights Laws, Not Restrictions.”

Hell, at this rate, the NRA will soon be proselytizing such a mercenary interpretation of the Second Amendment that gun-loving Americans will be claiming the right not just to military-style assault weapons but to shoulder-fired missiles too.

Ultimately, all I can say is God help America when a president championing sensible gun control measures can be so clearly beaten by an interest group hell-bent on turning the nation into a circular firing squad.

Related commentaries:
The Second Amendment

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