For years, I thought the National Rifle Association could stoop no lower than its role as shill for the gun manufacturers. The US has never restricted gun ownership, but the NRA has routinely pushed for increased accessibility and ever more lethal weapons. As a result, Americans may now purchase a 50-caliber semi-automatic sniper rifle powerful enough to blow a hole in a car’s engine block at a distance of 1,000 yards. You may now own a semi-automatic assault rifle with high capacity magazines that will permit you to shoot dozens of people without the inconvenience of having to stop to reload. And, if the NRA has its way, you will soon be able to legally purchase a silencer for your weapons that will allow you to shoot people while avoiding detection.
Who wouldn’t need that?
What began as an organization dedicated to helping young men improve their marksmanship for hunting and for possible military service, has morphed into a lobbying group with a mission of eliminating all laws and restrictions with regard to the purchase and carry of handguns. Now the NRA is working on open carry laws that will allow any paranoid dimwit to openly carry a loaded weapon anywhere at any time. By contrast, in many cities and towns, martial artists are still unable to purchase or carry nunchuku, shurikens (Asian throwing stars) or certain kinds of knives. After all, without such restrictions, the national nunchuku murder rate might soar to…ummm…one. And convenience stores would be under constant threat of being robbed at shuriken point.
Sarcasm aside, those restrictions came from a day when the American public actually cared about preventing violence. From a time when the lack of a conspicuous presence of guns was a sign of advanced civilization. A time when the primary reason for owning a gun was for home protection and for hunting. A time before the gun manufacturers and the NRA convinced the most paranoid amongst us that carrying a gun was the only thing that stood between them and tyranny.
In order to keep the majority of Americans from understanding the true dangers of our obsession with guns, the NRA has successfully lobbied to prevent the government from tracking gun deaths, to prevent the registration of firearms and ammunition, to prevent universal background checks of gun purchases, to prevent so-called straw buyers from purchasing guns for felons, even to prevent pediatricians from talking to parents about gun safety in the home.
All of that is bad enough. But now the NRA is fighting proposed gun restrictions for those who have been convicted of domestic abuse and those who are mentally ill, stating, “Not only is this unjust and stigmatizing, it creates disincentives for those who need mental health treatment to seek it, increasing whatever risks are associated with untreated mental illness.”
In other words, the NRA wants everyone to own guns and to carry them everywhere. Anything less is, in the NRA’s words, “an assault on the Second Amendment.” The problem is that the NRA conveniently ignores the first part of that amendment. Yes, the amendment does say, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” But only after it states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”
Reading the many papers written by the Founding Fathers, the intent of the Second Amendment becomes clear…since the new nation had no standing army, the Founders saw a need for a citizen militia to protect the nation. They had no concern of tyranny from within – the democratic process was considered protection from that. The real threat was from the British Army and the armies of other foreign governments. But now that the US has the most powerful military force on Earth, there is no longer a need for an armed militia. As a result, the Second Amendment has lost its meaning and its true purpose. All of those guns that are owned and carried by Americans are being used to shoot other Americans at a rate of more than 33,600 per year…roughly the equivalent of twelve 9/11 attacks each and every year!
The Founders could have never foreseen the lethality of the weapons available today. Just as they could not have imagined that a lobbying group representing a tiny fraction of the population would be so effective at convincing Congress to suspend common sense and reason.