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On "Reasonable, Common Sense" gun control, and the NRA opposition thereof.
blaisepascal
One of the important aspects of the NRA that many people forget is that the NRA sees itself, in part, as a civil rights organization. They claim to be the oldest civil rights organization in the country. I'd dispute that on the ground that while the NRA is 145 years old, it has promoted gun ownership as a civil right for only the past 50 or so. Before that, the NRA was similar to other organizations promoting hobbies. The ARRL provides training, promotion, and lobbying for interests regarding amateur radio; the NRA provided training, promotion, and lobbying for interests regarding gun ownership.

Around the 1960s and 1970s, some factions within the NRA came to feel that there were legislative and cultural efforts to eliminate legal gun ownership. They wanted the NRA to take a more vigorous role in protecting gun rights, and defending the 2nd amendment. In 1977, there was an almost hostile takeover of the NRA by these factions, defeating the old guard leadership of the NRA in the NRA convention. The leadership elected then is still, basically, the faction in control today. At that point, the NRA went into heavy "gun ownership is a protected civil right" mode that dominates their thinking and rhetoric today.

Which brings us to the current talking point of the gun control lobby: "reasonable, common sense restrictions on guns". And how the NRA looks so ridiculous arguing against even reasonable, common sense restrictions.

But consider this: It is common sense, and reasonable, that patients receiving medical treatment should be aware of the potential risks and complications of the treatment, so they can make a truly informed decision. So why do NARAL and other abortion-rights groups oppose mandatory counseling prior to getting an abortion?

It is common sense, and reasonable, that to promote patriotism and civic pride, school students should be required to salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day in school. Why would the ACLU fight court cases to say otherwise? (To avoid questions about "under God" in the pledge, I'll mention that the Supreme Court overturned mandatory pledge laws before "under God" was added to the pledge, so that wasn't the issue.)

It makes sense, doesn't it, that an assault weapon, like the Bushmaster (image) , not be available to the general public? I mean, it's designed to kill people, unlike the Remington Woodsmaster 750 (image), which is designed for hunting? How can it be reasonable to allow its sale? Why would the NRA oppose a ban on assault weapons?

In all three cases, the civil rights organizations in question do not view the proposed law to be "reasonable": NARAL knows that women who seek abortions don't do it lightly, and that the mandated counseling is mainly intended to badger women into changing their mind and not getting an abortion. The ACLU knows that some religious beliefs prohibit the swearing of oaths to symbols, and thus the Pledge (even without the "under God" part) would violate those beliefs. And the NRA knows that, appearances aside, the Bushmaster and the Woodsmaster are very similar guns, with similar firing mechanisms, rates of fire, etc. They feel it is unreasonable to ban certain guns because of cosmetic reasons.

Also, all three organizations fight hard against any encroachment on the civil rights they defend because all three believe that it's a "slippery slope": if it's required that a woman seeking an elective abortion receive anti-abortion literature, why not require her to have a night to mull it over (thus making abortion more unaffordable to many who have to travel far already to find a clinic)? if it's OK to have a prayer during high school graduation, why not during morning announcements, even if the students aren't required to join (thus making non-majority-religious students stand out and be subject to peer pressure)? If private citizens can't sell guns to each other at gun shows, why should they be able to sell them to anyone but licenses gun dealers (unlike almost any other durable good available in the US)?

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Someone who gets it right!

I'm glad to see this. Most people just seem to talk about the NRA's opposition as "See what these gun nuts are like?"

The real problem is that the laws always talk about banning "Assault weapons". There is no legal definition of "assault weapon". When you really boil down their argument (at least the sane members), it comes down to "Be precise!" Don't say that you can't own an assault weapon, say that you can't buy the Bushmaster, or an AR-15, or ... well, you get the idea.

And that's really where the slippery slope comes in. If you write a law loosely enough, you can end up banning anything with a trigger.

Re: Someone who gets it right!

There is no legal definition of "assault weapon".

Actually, there was.

The issue is that much of it is a cosmetic difference which in no way changes the functioning of the weapon.

Now, it would be correct to say there is no commonly accepted definition of an assault weapon, outside the legal statutes, whereas there is one for assault rifles.

Re: Someone who gets it right!

There is a definition of "Assault weapon". It was in the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, and in the similar laws in effect in various states. I agree with the NRA and other gun rights proponents that the definition is a bad definition, but it exists and is clear.

The real problem is that the proponents of the law are deliberately trying to make semi-automatic centerfire rifles with certain mostly-cosmetic features confused in peoples minds with selectable fire military "assault rifles". People don't want J Random Gunowner to go to the local gun shop and buy a machine gun, so banning that sounds like a good idea.

Re: Someone who gets it right!

The specific issue of assault weapons/assault rifles is merely an example in this post, as are the 8 other proposed laws I've mentioned. Focusing on it is missing the thesis for the supporting evidence.

The real point is that the NRA fights for gun rights, even against "reasonable, common sense" gun laws, for much the same reason that other civil rights organizations fight against other "reasonable, common sense" laws.

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