Monday, April 23, 2007
Why I Can't Stand The NRA
No sooner than I'd hit the SAVE button on my Virginia Tech post did the National Rifle Association chime in with their bull feces assertion that if the students had been armed the tragedy wouldn't have happened.
Just what I want to see. Drunken fratboys indiscriminately firing 9MM pistols at campus gatherings.
I believe if you want to have a gun, that's your prerogative. My dad owned one and so did my grandfathers. I owned a BB gun and was taught how to properly use it by my grandfather. Like 73% of the American population I want common sense restrictions on guns. I don't think anybody should have AK-47's, Uzis or M-16's since those weapons are only designed for one purpose: to kill mass quantities of humans as quickly as possible.
My dislike of the NRA actually started in February 2000 when I came to Frankfort to help lobby for passage of a civil rights bill. We were done with our appointments by 1 PM and decided to sit in the gallery and watch the Kentucky House session play out on the floor. I'd noticed Lexington and Louisville police officers meandering in the Capitol building and discovered they were there in support of a bill that then state rep Eleanor Jordan (D-Louisville) was sponsoring.
The Louisville and Lexington PD's were seeing the same guns repeatedly being confiscated in commissions of crimes and were destroying them after the criminal cases were disposed of. Injunctions were filed to stop it after it became public knowledge that's what was happening to those guns. Rep. Jordan's bill would simply give them the authority to do so.
You would think that a bill that helps the police do their jobs more effectively and takes weapons out of the hands of criminals would be a slam dunk with 'law and order' Republicans, right?
Not in GOP Bizarro World. For some reason this was seen as 'gun control legislation' that got a full frontal assault from the NRAoids in the Kentucky House. I and the Louisville and Lexington officers in attendance watched dumbfounded over the next ninety minutes as this bill was attacked. The surreal nature the debate took at one point made me wonder if I was watching aTwilight Zone episode. One rural Kentucky legislator suggested in response to one of Rep. Jordan's points about the different ways rural and urban peeps view guns that the NRA come into the 'hood and do gun safety training.
Rep. Jordan pointed out along with other urban legislators that the kids could probably teach the NRA instructors a few things about guns they didn't know. They turned deaf ears on the concerns of urban legislators about the toll gun violence was taking on our kids and forced votes on two amendments that went down urban-rural/suburban lines. The amendments basically gutted Rep. Jordan's bill to the point where she ended up voting against the bill she authored. To add insult to injury the amendments not only contained language banning Kentucky police departments from tracking the serial numbers on confiscated weapons but ordered then to be turned over to the state police for sale at auction. As the urban legislators feared two of those confiscated weapons sold at a state police auction were used in commission of a series of murders in Louisville later that year.
Rep. Jordan was majorly upset about what happened to her bill along with the police officers in the gallery and let them have it on the floor. Little did any of us know that when she attempted a few months later to become the first African-American elected to Congress from Kentucky a snippet of the news film of her excoriating the NRAoids was used in an Anne Northup attack ad aimed at her.
Like many issues in this country gun control has the volatile element of race in it. Your attitude about guns in the United States depends on your race, gender and where you live. If you're white, male and a suburban/rural dweller nine times out of ten you probably have an NRA sticker on your car. If you're a city dweller like I am you most likely won't.
The NRA knows they have a serious image problem in my community. Various NRA leaders such as Charlton Heston, Wayne LaPierre and Ted Nugent have made racist statements over the years and that perception crystallized over the last decade thanks to their overwhelming support of GOP candidates.
The NRA trotted out Karl Malone and former US House Rep JC Watts (R-OK) several years ago in an 'I'm The NRA' ad campaign attempting to counter the views of many African-Americans that they are a racist organization. They are still deafeningly silent on the issue that matters most to African-Americans: ratcheting down the level of gun violence in our communities. Their simplistic 'buy more guns' spin doesn't wash.
I'm sick of the myopic attitude that the gun peeps have toward sensible gun legislation. Unfortunately the NRA lobby has become a powerful one on the Hill and in many states that many politicians on both sides of the aisle are loath to cross. Anyone who criticizes them is labeled an 'anti-gun extremist'. If that criticism comes from a celeb or a media pundit they are bombarded with sometimes profane e-mails from the pro-gun zealots. If by some miracle politicians get some cojones and pass sensible legislation like the Brady Bill, it gets attacked and watered down and the politicians who passed it find themselves either threatened by the NRA or in a political race with a well funded opponent in the next election cycle.
For years people have worked to have peeps with mental illnesses added to the National Registry of peeps banned from purchasing guns. The NRA has opposed that.
Now a person with a history of mental illness passed a watered down gun check and used those weapons he purchased to kill 31 peeps and himself on the Virgina Tech campus. While those students were grieving, a man who got a bad performance review killed his supervisor and held a woman hostage at NASA's JSC campus in Houston. This incident ironically took place on the seventh anniversary of the Columbine High School tragedy.
How many more lives must we lose before the NRA gets over their fetishistic love affair with guns and hiding behind the Second Amendment to justify a gun culture that is making us less safe?
By the way, when is Vice President Cheney scheduled for his NRA gun safety training class?