Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Question on Our NRA Support

I checked The Ten Ring's e-mail box and read a criticism of Bill and my vacation plans. Before I go further, I'm not a fragile flower. My e-mailer chose to be anonymous and now "a'mous" is his (or her) name. Because a'mous chose not to leave a return address, I'll address his concerns here.

A'mous is angry that we are NRA members and going to its Banquet and convention. You see a'mous is a Second Amendment absolutist. By many definitions I'm a Second Amendment absolutist too. But, I support the NRA even while I support other gun and hunting organizations too.

Do I think the NRA has always been right? No, they made compromises and mistakes that have led to gun control laws being passed in Congress and in states. For instance, NRA officers supported registering machine guns and sawn-off shotguns in 1934 and a few even talked about registering handguns. That's wrong, but I still support the NRA and I'll tell you why.

Our Congresscritters make their living by doing what they perceive to be the people's will. Is it right for Congress to infringe upon a Constitutional right? No. Was Congress going to pass anti-gun legislation in 1934 and 1968? Yes, they were; too many people had grown too tired of reading about criminal use of guns. Congress will pass any damn thing they think enough people want. If gunnies think our presidents or Courts will veto laws or declare them dead through judicial review, we have another think coming.

In my lifetime, I've never seen a President truly support our Second Amendment. Eisenhower and Kennedy did little to help or hurt it. Johnson, though a hunter and shooter, signed the 1968 Gun Control Act, which actor Charlton Heston then supported. Nixon elevated the ATF and broadened its powers. Ford wasn't in office long enough to do much of anything. Carter, well....'nuff said. Ronald Reagan supported the Firearms Owner Protection Act of 1986 which did soften more odious parts of the 1968 Gun Control Act. The NRA supported him then, but to get the bill into law neither fought the Hughes Amendment making it impossible for civilians to buy new machine guns.

George Herbert Walker Bush approved import bans on many different "assault weapons" and supported banning their manufacture in the United States. The NRA supported Bush in 1988 because he seemed so much better than Dukakis on gun issues and he was a newly-minted NRA life member. Clinton opposed many gun rights (i.e., "assault weapons" ban, Brady Bill, etc.) and Bush hasn't pushed for many reforms, although he seems the best of the bunch except maybe Reagan.

Our Courts are more problematic than our presidents on gun rights and I'm not going spend any pixels on them.

I've come to the conclusion that we have to support an organization that makes Congress listen. The only pro-gun organization that comes close to that is the NRA, with its proven lobbying clout. Gunnies can't give up that lobbying clout, but we have to let it know we are not happy about its past compromises and mistakes.

Like it or not the NRA is the only gun organization that makes Congress and presidents listen to us. Until we have a better organization, Bill and I are going to enjoy the banquet and know that our membership dues are going to gun training, pro-gun lobbying, and gun sports.

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