This rant is based primarily on two articles I read in the last two days. One comes from the the AP, written by Erik Shelzig- “Tennessee Demonstrates Trend of Looser Guns Laws.” The other is entitled “Members, NRA not in Accord” and it comes from the Scranton Tribune.
The Tribune article is about a poll conducted among 832 gun owners and NRA members by conservative “pollster” Frank Luntz. The respondents were asked about a few key issues and the poll concluded that:
- 69% of all NRA members support criminal background checks for firearm sales at gun shows
- 84% believe that persons on the “Terrorist Watch List” should not be able to purchase firearms.
Did you know that it’s not illegal for people on a “Terrorist Watch List” to purchase firearms? Neato! This is the sort of reasonable provision that vast majorities of NRA members support when they are specifically described, even though these same people might express suspicion about gun laws when they are described in more general terms. Note that the poll was conducted by Luntz, ordinarily a notoriously unreliable source. Luntz is a GOP huckster and it is startling, frankly, to see him reveal accurate polling information. Something must have gone awry here, but we musn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
The NRA’s leadership opposes any gun legislation at all, based on the “slippery slope” argument/fallacy. It is a ridiculous argument, and this ridiculous argument has reached is logical conclusion, which brings me to Shelzig’s article.
In the last two years, 24 states have passed laws which have eased gun restrictions. Legislatures in Tennessee and Arizona recently passed laws which specifically allow persons to carry concealed firearms into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
Excuse me for a second reader, but you have to be out of your #@(*$& mind to think that people in bars should be carrying concealed handguns. Are these people trying to live in a Western movie? Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” comes to mind. Yet the Tennessee legislature not only voted for the bill, they overrode a veto from the Governor. The law was struck down by the State Supreme Court, but that decision will be appealed by the NRA and its allies in both parties. Some Tennessee Gun advocates are pushing for the elimination of all gun permit requirements.
These radical “2nd Amendment advocates” are misreading the Bill of Rights. The 2nd Amendment is intended to be a balance against Federal power in the form of a standing US Army/Navy. The idea was that a “Well Regulated Militia”-which would be comprised of the local populace-would balance out the new Federal constitutional power to train and maintain a standing army.
The notion that we should allow individuals to carry handguns or deer rifles into bars or schools is not relevant to this “balance of power” argument between the framers of the Constitution. There are limits on all of the rights enumerated within. You can’t shout “fire” in a crowded theater, and it’s not a good idea to bring a handgun into a theater either. The idea that we should eliminate all permits, waiting periods or background checks is not consistent with the idea of a “Well Regulated Militia” because a “Well Regulated Militia” would hopefully not include people on a “Terrorist Watch List”, violent felons, or mentally unstable people.
In the real world liberalized gun laws do not actually balance out federal military power, since no number of “law-abiding” handgun owners would be able to defend themselves against an army that is now using unmanned aircraft to fire laser-guided missiles at unarmed civilians in Afghanistan. The real constitutional answer is for concerned citizens to take the reigns of their government and use its power to benefit the majority of the people, but that takes more time and thought than purchasing a firearm at a gun show. Many Americans don’t have the attention span for this sort of thing anymore.
I fully realize that no gun control laws will pass at the national level in the US in the foreseeable future, and that the trend will be liberalization of gun control laws at the state level. The majority of handgun deaths in the US every year are suicides or accidents, and that issue will continue to be completely, totally ignored in the media as well.
I just wanted to note that while we are bombarded with hypocritical hysteria from right wing “gun-rights activists” about “Obama grabbing guns,” in fact the administration has done nothing whatsoever to restrict gun sales. All of this while the NRA is advocating against sane restrictions that its own membership supports by wide margins, even in polls conducted by conservative pollsters. Once again the view of the majority takes a back seat to the views held by a politically powerful extremist minority with deep pockets.