It may surprise you to discover that the National Rifle Association has recently strayed quite far from its traditional moderate views to embrace much more radical policies. For instance, the position of the NRA on carrying guns in public has changed over time.
Has the leadership of the NRA embraced the developing maturation of American social conscience, or have they been lured to pander to the interests of weapon manufacturers? I usually try to resist cut-and-paste columns, but I want to offer some cherry-picked quotations drawn from “academic histories of the NRA” for your consideration.
“I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.” - NRA President Karl T. Frederick, praising state gun control laws when he testified in Congress before the 1938 federal gun control law passed.
“We do think that any sane American, who calls himself an American, can object to placing into this bill the instrument which killed the president of the United States.” - NRA Executive Vice-President Franklin Orth in testimony to Congress, shortly after Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed President John F. Kennedy.
“There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons. … [guns are] a ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” California Gov. Ronald Reagan (May 1967).
Ronald Reagan also spoke to Congress in favor of the Brady Bill’s waiting periods and background checks: “You do know that I am a member of the NRA and my position on the right to bear arms is well known, but I want you to know something else, and I am going to say it in clear, unmistakable language: I support the Brady Bill and I urge Congress to enact it without further delay.”
Also consider former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger (a Republican appointee), “To ‘keep and bear arms’ for hunting today is essentially a recreational activity and not an imperative of survival, as it was 200 years ago; ‘Saturday night specials’ and machine guns are not recreational weapons and surely are as much in need of regulation as motor vehicles.” (January 1990) Also: “[The Second Amendment] has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” (PBS “News Hour,” 1991)
The closer we look at our passions of the moment, the more we tend to lose sight of the larger picture and greater context. Why do we vigorously defend the accepted wisdom of today’s authorities as sacred writ without actually stopping to think about how our convictions developed or may need to change?
- · Does arming as many citizens as possible actually protect more people from violence?
- · Is America, with its gun culture, safer than other developed countries with tighter firearm regulations?
- · Should potentially lethal items such as automobiles, medical devices and guns require special training, licenses and insurance?
- · Should we be alarmed that the most-vocal defenders of “gun rights” are also the most vocal about being able to personally take “Second Amendment remedies?”
- · If you saw someone carrying a firearm into your bank, would you be more likely to congratulate his patriotism and offer to buy him a cup of coffee or leave the building and call 911?
[Oh, BTW, WWJD?]