What Has the NRA Done For Me?
I have to admit that this column was not really my idea. I stole the idea from Wayne Lapierre, the Executive Vice President of the NRA, who writes about this very topic in “America’s First Freedom” this month.
|GunsAmerica is Booth 837 at the NRA Show this weekend. From the entrance you jog right and it is towards the back.|
In his version of this article, Mr. Lapierre explains to a fellow airline traveler what he feels the NRA has done for this person to protect his gun rights over his lifetime. Apparently the guy is not yet an NRA member. Mr. Lapierre himself admits in the article that he is painting in very broad strokes, and I wonder if the guy got it. I wonder if he went on to join the NRA.
How do we reach people who own guns, hunt, and who are even avid gun enthusiasts but who are not NRA members. I am a life member of the NRA, but even ten years ago I was not, and twenty years ago, even though I carried a gun every day, I would have argued with you that nobody needed a gun with more than seven rounds in the magazine. I carried an NRA membership intermittently during my twenties and thirties, a classic “lapser,” and you would think that I would have some answers. I don’t know if a laundry list of what the NRA does and has does any good.
But what I do know is that we have hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions, of new or renewed gun owners out there who ran out and bought a black rifle or pistol because they thought they wouldn’t be able to in the near future. Those of us closer to the issue knew that this wasn’t going to happen. Guns have been a hot potato issue for politicians for years (Remember John Kerry holding the Remington 1187 he would have tried to ban if given the chance?) and even Slick Willy Clinton didn’t have the courage to go after guns until his second term.
We have an enormous opportunity to invite these newly inspired gun owners to get more involved in shooting, to learn the nuances of our sport, and to learn the Constitutional basis that gives them the right to own the gun they just bought. “Take a friend shooting” has taken on a whole new meaning. Now the friend most likely already owns the gun and it is sitting in the little gun safe he bought with it, in the closet, without ammo. This individual most likely had exposure to firearms earlier in life, shooting .22s in Boy Scouts, hunting with dad before moving away to the big city, trap lessons in 4H etc., and this may be a doorway to this person becoming a lifetime friend to gun rights, and a lifetime vote for gun rights.
So don’t screw it up!! If you have a friend like this, take the initiative and take him or her shooting, with a couple other friends, and try to find them some ammo cheap. And don’t stop there. Take time to tell them about the 2nd Amendment, about the Heller decision, and about the NRA.
Maybe I’m an extremist, but I feel that if it was not for the NRA, America would be in the same boat that England and Canada are in today, with almost no citizens possessing defensive guns at all. You may argue that America is different. This isn’t possible here, that the 2nd Amendment protects our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. You might argue that England and Canada don’t have a Bill of Rights and that is why they lost their guns. Right?
I wholeheartedly disagree.
|Look for this banner towards the back, high up on our cage.|
If I am ever asked to speak at the NRA Annual Conference (don’t worry I won’t be speaking this weekend in Charlotte lol), I will not talk about reaching out to youth to go shooting. I won’t talk about using a woodchuck cartridge to hunt deer. And I certainly won’t talk about any politician who is a friend to gun rights. I will talk about apathy and ignorance, and how bombarded we are with misinformation and attacks on our 2nd Amendment freedom. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms may indeed be written into the Bill of Rights, but the anti-gunners have wrangled every detail of the law and of our lives to steal that freedom away, and without the NRA they would long ago have been successful, just like they were in England, Canada, most of Europe, Australia, and most other “western” countries of the world.
The NRA is our steady and strong voice, and our iron fist. There are throngs of idiots out there who didn’t pay attention in history class and who feel it is their moral duty to ban personal firearm ownership. It has always been the NRA who fights them. They don’t win them all, but they always fight, and they aren’t fighting for some perverse political power trip like your friendly neighborhood senator. They fight for freedom, and for the future of freedom in this great nation we live in.
I ask you to make sure that your membership is up to date if you are a lapser like I used to be, or if you have not been a member, to join the NRA today. And, respectfully and peaceable-like of course, get in your friend’s faces and get them to do the same!
Here are some of the points that Mr. Lapierre makes in his article, and I am going to elaborate on them with some details, in case you have no idea that these things even happened:
1. The Heller Case and Legal History of Gun Rights.
|Wayne Lapierre at the GunsAmerica booth last year in Phoenix.|
You really can’t start with anything besides this landmark case because this will be the basis upon which every crazy firearm law will be taken down over the next generation. Without decades of legal research and debate, the argument for an individual right would never have emerged and taken proper legal shape from the annals of history, and from the original intent of the founding fathers.
Maybe you live in a box so I will explain the basis of the case. The text of the 2nd Amendment is ” A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” There has been a long standing argument examining the relative capitalization and commas. Do they mean that there is an individual right, or is it that the right is within the confines of a well regulated militia. The argument is over. It is an individual right. I won’t go into the legal arguments. There is plenty of it online.
2. Electing George W. Bush!
Ok so Dubya didn’t get it all right, but he did make some solid high court appointments that set the stage for Heller. You may think this isn’t a big deal, but Gerald Ford nominated John Paul Stevens. George H.W. Bush nominated David Souter. There is no guarantee that a Republican President is going to nominate good judges and Dubya did. And even outside the nominations, as Mr. Lapierre points out, the anti-gunners Kerry and Gore would have been nightmares for gun rights. Bush and Cheney credited the NRA as the key ingredient in winning both elections, and overall they were friends to gun rights during their tenure.
3. Concealed Carry Permits.
The individual travelling on the plane with Mr. Lapierre in his article is from a “shall issue” state. This means that applicants are not at the mercy of a potentially anti-gun chief of police or oversight board to obtain the permit. There are states where one neighbor get a permit in a day and the guy across the street can’t get one at all, because they are in a different township and that chief is against concealed carry. In a shall issue state, the state has to give the permit to all qualified applicants, and within a certain time window. The NRA thinks of everything, and they even train people to give the required course. There are now 40 states with concealed carry laws, and 36 are shall issue.
4. Carrying in National Parks.
This is a perfect example of the NRA going after every little loose end where the government tries to take away our 2nd Amendment rights. So many people tell me that they don’t join the NRA because “THE NRA JUST WANTS YOUR MONEY.” If they just wanted money would they spend millions on dollars on lawyers, travel, lobbyists, campaigns etc. to make it so you don’t have to put your gun in its case when you go to Acadia? Wouldn’t it be easier to spend your money on a Vegas “think tank” convention? Without a thorough cataloguing system of what rights are being stolen where, and the courage and resources to pursue every little issue, who would even think something like this up? Thank you NRA I want to be able to carry my gun everywhere I may need it for any reason.
5. Saturday Night Specials.
If you are reading this most likely you are a member of GunsAmerica and an inductee to firearm elitist community. That means you own and carry cool guns that always work and cost over $500. Well you know what? Not everyone can afford that, and when someone can’t afford to own a gun, that becomes a 2nd Amendment freedom issue. Twenty years ago or more, I believe it started in California, the governments started going after companies that made inexpensive guns. They did this by attacking the melt temperature of the metal that the gun was made out of. Elitists beat these guns up and call them unsafe and not required for a free society, but I disagree, and so did the NRA. My little Raven worked fine, the safety worked fine (though I have seen some that didn’t work so well), and my Davis derringer in .32acp I carried for years when I didn’t want to carry my heavy AMT Backup .45. The NRA defended the manufacture of inexpensive guns when it was not PC to do so, and for that reason we have companies like Cobra Industries today, still bringing self defense to those who can’t afford a higher quality, more reliable and much more expensive option.
6. Plastic Guns.
How many people remember when the first Glock hit the market? The media jumped on them full force and nearly prevented the gun from being able to be sold in the United States. There was never a genuine danger of being able to take Glocks through airport scanners, and structurally the guns we all know were as sound as any firearm ever made. You wouldn’t have that sexy S&W M&P, or Beretta Px4, or XD etc. We have some of the best guns ever made now, that never would have been without the efforts of the NRA.
7. Hi-Cap Magazines.
I predict that the fight is not over on this issue, especially if our illustrious President gets a second term. There are still states that do not allow magazines over ten rounds, as absurd as we all know that is, but they are still getting away with it. The founding fathers may not have been able to envision high-caps, but they may fall within the boundaries of the framework of the original 2nd Amendment. If a fight is coming, it will be the NRA fighting it. Stay tuned.
8. Consumer Product Safety and Smart Gun Technology.
This point could be an entire article in itself. I have seen consumer safety laws used in Massachusetts to ban whole classes of handguns, so don’t think it is a joke. Just when you think you have a safe 2nd Amendment protecting your freedom along comes a do-gooder politician who thinks he is going to solve the crime problem by requiring electronic fingerprinting on all new guns. He conveniently forgot that there are millions upon millions of guns already out there that don’t have this technology and are not discriminating as to which bad guy is firing them.
The NRA has nipped every piece of this legislation firmly in the bud, and sliced it’s bud off. Smart guns will make guns more expensive, much more expensive, and are subject to human and mechanical error, and are a really bad idea. In 1977 the NRA won an important victory of the Consumer Product Safety Commission when they tried to outlaw handgun ammunition as a public hazard. This is now being looked at again by the anti-gunners with micro-stamping on bullets, another ridiculous fallacy.
9. Castle Doctrine Laws.
Twenty four states now have what are called Castle Doctrine laws thanks to direct and unparalleled efforts of the NRA, where it is statutorily legal to stand and defend your home without worry of prosecution. Many of these states had laws on the books that required you to leave your home if you had a way to get out in the case of a robbery or home invasion. I’m too lazy to go fetch the actual cases, but if you google around you will find the stories of people who have gone to jail defending their homes, simply because they could have just snuck out the back window instead of shooting the home invader. We aren’t talking about the guy shot in the back two feet from the front gate here. You probably don’t want to even find the stories, because you won’t want to believe that such a thing could happen in America. Anti-gun district attorneys have abused their power and imprisoned many a law abiding American who were simply defending their homes.
10. Interstate Travel.
Like the National Parks issue, this was something that nobody had to pick up the sword on, but the NRA did. In 1986 the NRA designed and funded the implementation of the McClure-Volkner Act, known as the Firearm Owners Protection Act. It protects firearm owners who traverse states with legally stored firearms, without licensing for that particular state. Before this law states like New Jersey and New York made it a crime, even a felony (in which a conviction would mean you can never own firearms again) to travel through their state with firearms at all, without their state licensing.
11. Gun Shows and Gun Dealers.
Without the NRA you wouldn’t have a place to buy a gun today, period. Again, this could be a whole article. Let’s start with gun shows. If you don’t know the history of the imaginary “gun show loopole,” it is based on a provision of the National Firearms Act of 1968 that effectively established the Federally licensed gun dealer (FFL Dealer). Part of this law (probably fought for by the NRA back then) was that all firearms transactions didn’t have to always go through a dealer. Only interstate transactions had to involve a dealer. If you were in the same state, individuals could transfer firearms amongst themselves without filling out the Federal form 4473. The anti-gunners take offense to individuals setting up at gun shows and selling guns to residents of their own states. When someone talks about “closing the gunshow loopole” they are talking about taking away the right to private sales of firearms. Don’t let them fool you. There is no loopole. The NFA was supposed to address interstate commerce, not every gun transaction. It is just a rights grab.
And as for dealers, already the NRA has defended dealers against the rogue mayor Blumberg of New York City. They have also been trying to reform the BATFE to be more consistent and clear with its policy towards dealers.
12. Protection of Lawful Commerce Act.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, in the heart of Dubya’s first term, the firearms industry was in a tailspin. Pillars of our firearms manufacturing community were spending millions to defend reckless lawsuits, suing them for what people did with their guns. To this day you will find warning labels on many common firearms that date back to this terrifying era when we all wondered what was to become of gun manufacturing in America. Seeing an opportunity with a government that owed much of its success to gun owners, the NRA successfully passed legislation protecting manufacturers and dealers from the most ridiculous and frivolous of anti-gun lawsuits.
Now, the smart consumer would say ok, the NRA has done great stuff. Thanks! But why should I join now that the major battles have already been won? It’s not like I have to support the WWII war effort to beat the Germans. The war is over.
Unfortunately that is not the case. The NRA did win a big one, that is for sure. When I heard the verdict I rushed to my favorite gun shop (Kittery Trading Post) with a couple thousand of my “Guns Are An Individual Right” bumper stickers to celebrate with all of “our people” there. It just isn’t over. The anti-gunners are determined people, ignorant, but determined. They can’t see past “guns kill people” to the truth that guns save more people than they kill. They can’t accept that the world is a dangerous place and that guns keep good people safe from bad people who would do them harm.
These are some issues that Mr. Lapierre doesn’t mention in his article that I would like to add here. I feel that if you need a reason to join the NRA, just read a little further.
1. International Law.
This is the most imminent of the fight on the immediate horizon. You may not know this, but the UN has taken a very aggressive position against firearms, and they are trying to impose their will upon everyone, including the United States. The current administration is obsessed with how the rest of the world feels about America. One of the President’s first tasks was to fly around the world apologizing for the US being such “bullies.” An international “small arms treaty” would please many of the President’s constituents, and in the name of “international civility,” without making the members of the congress stand up and sponsor anti-gun legislation. it is back door gun control, plain and simple.
Nobody, and I can tell you this is no exaggeration, NOBODY, would get in the way of this if not for the NRA. The United States would enter a slippery slope of backdoor erosion of Constitutional Freedom to the sound of cheers and applause by the largely ignorant general populace. In the late 90s hundreds of thousands of African tribesman hacked each other to pieces with machetes and farm tools. How can the UN blame the violence in small conflicts on guns? The answer is that they know that guns never cause the harm of innocent civilians. They want to disarm the innocent civilians of the world so that they can distribute power themselves. In America we have our own checks and balances on the distribution of power, backed by the muzzle of your rifle, and the NRA is the only thing standing in the way of this right being stripped by corrupt and perverted international politics.
2. States Rights.
Generally the conservative position is to be for state’s rights, but when it comes to guns you hit a snag. Are the states, cities, localities allowed to take away rights that the federal government would otherwise be forbidden to infringe? That is the question that is going to be answered in the Chicago case from my understanding. There is also the interstate issue of concealed carry permits. The states don’t honor each other’s drivers licenses because they want to. They have to because of a Federal policy forcing them to do it. Does this or should this also apply to concealed carry permits? We will see in the near future.
3. What’s Happening in Your State?
You might think that the NRA is only focused on national issues, but it is not. If you go to NRA-ILA and sign up for the email list there, you will regularly get emails about things going on in your state. These can be things like infringements on your concealed carry permit, organizations or specific representatives trying to add exceptions to your license that are nothing but a knee-jerk reaction to some event that happened. There is no gun fight that the NRA does not pick, and you should get involved.
4. Oversight on Gun Registration.
We have all waited for the NICS check at gunshops by now, but there is very little accountability as to where that data goes, how long it is kept, and who has access to it. When Brady was passed there were limits put on all of these things, but with no one interested in watching the ship this system is ripe for abuse. Gun registration is the first step to gun confiscation throughout every story that ever ended badly in the history of the world. Our NRA is who is watching the ship, and nobody else.
5. Bans on Tactical Rifles.
Nobody will ever accuse the NRA of not having any guts if they have a brain in their head. You know that AR-15 clone you love so much? You wouldn’t have it if it wasn’t for the NRA, and they haven’t been successful in defending your right to owning a tactical rifle by calling it a hunting rifle and trying to coddle fickle politicians who don’t care what the truth is anyway.
Yes, you can use an AR to hunt even whitetail deer effectively with the modern ammunition available today, but that isn’t why we have the right to own them. And the same goes for the venerable AK-47, FN FAL, HK-91, SCAR, M1A1 or any other flavor of battle rifle available today. There was a day (around the time of the Revolutionary War for those of you who fell asleep in history class) when most “rifles” didn’t have any rifling in the barrel at all. Rifling was cutting edge high tech, and those who shot rifles at others shooting muskets (non rifled rifles) usually won. The same goes for the repeating rifle, both bolt and lever action in the late 1800s. The founding fathers didn’t create the 2nd Amendment to defend our right to hunt deer. In those days a “militia,” as the amendment is worded, was made up of non commissioned self appointed soldiers who gathered to defend their homeland with their guns and with their lives.
The 2nd Amendment doesn’t say “don’t worry the police will protect you but it’s ok to have guns to hunt.” In the grand scheme of things, as we saw in Katrina, you are ultimately responsible to protect your home, your land and your country. Joseph Stalin (a murderous Russian dictator you may have also missed in history class) once said that America will never be invaded, because of the number of guns in the hands of its citizens. Sixty years after his death this is still true, and only because of the steadfast defense of our freedom by the NRA.
6. Is It An Election Year Again Already?
You may think that the elections this November will almost definitely slant conservative because of public frustration. But I’m sorry my friends, a lot can happen in a few months. Bill Clinton fooled all of the people some of the time for quite a while, riding on the back of economic success that was very likely not his doing. He rode it to a very successful campaign against your gun freedoms that we are still recovering from today. To call this President dangerous is a dangerous understatement, and he wants nothing more than to stay in power and control. Expect a stunt this summer aimed at turning public opinion, whether it be riding a crisis promising change, or an opportunistic success that makes the President and Democratic Congress look good.
While the rest of the right wing sits and hububs with the talking heads on television, the NRA is out there today digging the trenches for war. Whether the battlefield landscape looks promising or foreboding has no bearing. The NRA is always there, organizing each state battle, organizing activists, materials, lawyers, whatever tools will be required to win not only the battle, but also the war.
7. On the Offensive!
Things that we take for granted as permanent laws, like Brady, like the NFA of 1968 and 1986, could be struck down in favor of other solutions to crime that actually work and don’t inconvenience law abiding Americans who own guns and cherish their 2nd Amendment Freedom.
Join the NRA today, or if you have lapsed, catch it up. This list could go on and on, and even though we don’t run out of space online, enough is enough. See you at the show in Charlotte this weekend. I won’t be speaking don’t worry.