Quote Of The Day
A Constitutional crisis is anything the other side says it is. -Me
Post#: 153-19 – Words: 2197 – Audio: N/A
Virginia Beach… and 12 more victims.
First You Have To Suffer Through A Little Personal History –
I got interested in guns, and subsequently gun ownership, just before I enlisted in the Air Force, about 1970. I was 19 years old and my best bud at the time (and ultimately my Best Man later in life) and myself went in on a 50/50 arrangement to purchase a new Universal M1 Carbine from Sears (keep in mind this was about 1970). I believe it cost a whopping $90. Being wound up with all things WW2, we liked the magazine idea… 15 rounds or the banana-style 30 round. Full-fledged assault rifles were not yet in vogue nor yet in mainstream society. We went out shooting with it a few times, but living in Chicago meant that one had to travel to the outlying areas of the next county over to fire at very regulated outside rifle ranges. This usually meant.. no rapid fire; you had to pause between trigger pulls. In those days rapid semi-auto rifle fire sounded very “unsafe” and “machine gun-ish” and implied “uncontrolled and not aimed” because it was relatively uncommon to hear in real life other than WW2 movies and TV shows. Sadly, that was the entire interest we had in the weapon.. shooting the blame thing rapid-fire. Bullets were cheap and most times were surplus from some South American countries.
When I entered the military in 1971 my buddy kept it in mothballs until I got out. In the meantime, he went into a university ROTC program and when he graduated he went on to a career as an Army officer. After I got out he was too interested in “real” military guns on active duty so he surrendered the weapon to me after I bought out his half. It got sold during a period of unemployment forced me to surrender the thing to someone who gave me a hundred bucks in the early 1980’s. But all through the 1970’s I developed a huge interest in guns, especially military. I knew all the calibers, ballistics, and the then current gun models. I also got interested in shot gunning and trap shooting. Even did my own re-loads on shot shells and cartridges of all calibers. Going into the 1980’s I joined the NRA. I rather enjoyed their publication, The American Rifleman. I enjoyed going through all the war surplus ads back in those days and reading the articles on weapons from all the wars. I got pretty good spotting improper military props in movies and on TV shows (like warring “Apaches” carrying M1 Garands). Most of the ads, as I recall, from back in those days, were outfits selling surplus equipment and sporting rifles, scopes… and pistols and revolvers. Hunting was the encouraged sport… not so much personal defense or militia wannabe. But markets change and if you have something to sell you go after the target demographic to feed the need. I understand all that.
Up until that point, the early 70’s I was single… got married in 1974… had my first of three kids at the end of 1980. Then a second.. then a third. By the mid 80’s real life was taking a greater interest within me than playing with guns and I set the interest aside, and sadly, sold everything. I even let my NRA membership lapse. Over the subsequent decades of family life I was isolated from the new military weaponry available, the growth of assault rifles, new calibers like .40 cal. and Creedmore, etc., I knew nothing about A civilian market having exploded with military-style assault weapons, most borrowing from the Armalite 5.56/.223 M16 actions. Even a “new” 5.56 bullet variant is in use by the military.
Then One Day Lots Of People Getting Killed At One Time Became A “Thing” –
“Killing fields” in public places like concerts, churches, schools, malls, the workplace; some by handgun, many by assault rifle variants. It kind of started with the rash of Post Office workplace shootings by disgruntled postal workers (hence the term “going postal”). In the late 90’s I started taking a more passive redux interest in the gun hobby, at least as it related to the tragedies in the news. I also took note of the rising opposition to gun control… and evolved to where I am at today. Also sadly, mass shootings are becoming so common that a few of us will try and guess based on death, casualties, etc. being reported in the early stages whether the shooter used a handgun or assault rifle or both (I’m about 60/40). And therein rests much of the social problem today regarding gun control… like Trump’s mindless everyday Tweets, shootings have become so commonplace we are falling victim to the apathy and fatigue of it all.
And The NRA Is To Blame? –
No.. not suggesting that at all. I DO consider the NRA a strong force in advocating what’s become known as our “gun culture”. Since those early days when I was a member in the late 70’s/early 80’s the organization, through largely their publications (that has since evolved beyond just The American Rifleman magazine), the magazine ads alone have shifted away from military surplus dealers to more fancy and glorified assault rifles, most having nothing to do with the military, but “look & feel”, and can kill, like real military weapons. Many such manufacturer ads take good advantage in the “Walter Mitty” in us by showing images of what appears to be bearded militia guys dressed in camo… with captions playing on the weapon’s reliability in harsh conditions.. and for good measure the old red, white, & blue is in the background, conjuring up some image of fighting some imaginary battle for patriotism. Which, by the way, is a constant theme in NRA ads… images of Revolutionary War American soldiers depicting the fight for independence (in which 50% of Americans were, in fact, rebel s to the Crown), with lots of red, white & blue, and the American eagle in many forms. I know this because earlier this year I joined the NRA again, at least for a year, because I wanted to get the feel of what the organization was actually representing since my early member days.
I Don’t Agree With SCOTUS One Bit –
Since I’ve become a political wonk in my aging years I’ve also evolved over the years into a “measured” Second Amendment advocate. That means… the degree of my being an American does NOT depend on how I might display nationalistic patriotism, nor does the level of my patriotism get measured by any magazine capacity I may or may not have, nor do I worship the Second Amendment as if it were the only amendment… nor do I have fantasies that my owning a weapon somehow keeps government “at bay”, and from infringing on my rights. I also DO NOT agree with the current SCOTUS interpretation of the Second Amendment from what (I interpret) was originally written. But, the Court ruled and that’s the law of the land. What is not the law of the land is that there cannot be gun controls in certain forms, yet the NRA has adopted the idea that the Second Amendment is being “threatened by outside forces” (liberals, of course), and fomenting the fear that certain candidates are wanting to “shred the Constitution”. Executive staff editorials, from the likes of Ollie North and Wayne LaPierre constantly support the outside threat fears and try and solicit more money to continue the “battle” in Congress.
I Still Like The NRA Mag –
I said I enjoyed reading the American Rifleman magazine and even today that publication does have some good gun evaluation articles, historical uses of weapons throughout history, first hand accounts… and they’ve kept that feature over the decades, “The Armed Citizen”, which is a collection of police-blotter news stories on crimes being thwarted by gun owning civilians. The idea in publishing those tidbits is an attempt to support private gun ownership (a kind of a “See! We told you owning guns is good!” thing).. and some conceal & carry effort. I’ve always taken those stories as situations that many times seem like the gun owner could have walked away by just standing fast and wait for the cops to arrive rather than kill another human being for a simple theft and live the rest of your life with PTSD.
There’s little question that today’s NRA does feed the right wing nationalism (although not far right extremism) via their publications, editorials, and constant email solicitations for “keeping up the fight”, when in fact, gun ownership should be an issue beyond just Conservatism. But many people without political affiliation have guns.. and do indeed use them for various sports like hunting, target competition, and simply a measure of home defense. But the NRA’s target demographic is very obviously the more right wing who are more easily inspired by fear of losing their guns, and dislike non-conservative political ideologies. Gun manufacturers might be influencing some of this, especially those who make assault weapons. The nature of those weapons suggests fear is a motivator for owning one. Now, to the NRA’s credit, over the years the NRA has set standards for gun safety, holding certified classes in proper defensive use, and range construction and safety perimeters. To some extent the NRA is the “Good Housekeeping” practitioner for safe gun use. But all that is voluntary and only goes so far.
But The World Is Changing And The NRA Is Not Changing With It –
While it seems to most people that all the mass shootings have brought the nation no closer to at least some attempt at gun control.. it has started to affect the NRA. Since the shootings began over that last decade NRA membership has declined noticeably, yet gun sales themselves have shot through the roof (pun intended). A lot of that simply a decline in wanting to be identified with what is more becoming a symbol of right wing vitriol expression. The other is that there really is no overall desire for new gun owners… especially of assault rifles… feeling they need some weakening lobby group to represent them when they feel they are holding the power of their own destiny in their own hands with owning that rifle.
Along with declining membership and revenues over the years, there is currently one investigation by the New York State Attorney General regarding the NRA’s tax-exempt status and revenue stream. Let’s add to that the recent squabble in the NRA leadership between Chairman & CEO Wayne LaPierre and the recent resignation of President Oliver North, North accusing the Chairman of financial mismanagement.
Then there’s each shooting itself.. with the inevitable more to come, adding yet another apprehension each time such a tragedy unfolds that the NRA is simply out of touch and out of control and totally unresponsive to the causes and is unable to engage in constructive social support.. preferring to set up barriers to defend the Second Amendment than trying to address the health and welfare of all Americans. As a current member I read nothing in the publications nor do I get anything in my email from them other than begging for more and more money.. by playing on some perceived patriotic guilt or some fear that that there’s a “they” that will take over and make the Constitution go away.
What I would have done if I were running the NRA – (I can say that because I’m an educated businessman.. just like Trump.. but way better, and not as rich to get in the way.)
Using some of that revenue from the gun manufacturers and memberships to establish a Congressional base that supports forming a national mental health program to explore avenues of mental health research. Advertise the hell out of that effort.. and make the NRA more responsive to attracting members by aligning with health and safety practices and personal responsibility in gun ownership.
Re-organize the NRA by initiating a complete demographic overhaul to not only find avenues to attract new members but to attract members of all ages and both genders. Re-image the NRA as more socially responsive rather than just being the” guardian of the Second Amendment” and all things right wing. More along the lines of being the “guardian of the Constitution”, if being a guardian of something is all that important. Make the NRA non-partisan. Establish its national role as being an authority on socially responsible gun practices.. and not another political opponent to fight.
To Do This Will Take Years… But It Can Be Done –
The NRA is failing. Slowly perhaps.. but there’s nothing there to keep it together. Gun manufacturer money might keep it afloat for a while.. but its leadership is a bunch of old school Conservative gun nuts who have no vision for the future. Honestly, I don’t think they will change one bit.. and the organization will decline into non-effectiveness. Time will go on without it.
Well, NRA, either lead, follow, or get outta the way. If you’re not part of the solution then you are most assuredly part of the problem.
My other sites… if you’re interested…