“If we’re going to get past this almost hysterical fear of trying to do anything at all on gun rights,” MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked on Friday during her breaking coverage of the mass shootings at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT, “if we’re going to try to puncture the myth that anything to reform or rationalize gun laws is absolutely, politically impossible as a categorical thing, what would happen if we just started at the edges? What would happen if we just started with what even members of the NRA say they want from national gun laws? Because they want a hell of a lot more than we’ve got right now,” she correctly noted. “The organization that they’re a member of may not admit that, but when you poll their members, even they want improvements.”
She is absolutely right. And so is the rank-and-file membership of the National Rifle Association when it comes to many of the most pressing gun-safety issues. The numbers (read on) are unequivocal. They want what their leadership does not, and by huge margins. The con-men and scam-artists who run the terrorist-enabling NRA racket, on the other hand, as usual, are absolutely bloody wrong.
If we could reform gun-safety laws just enough in this country to meet the wishes of the vast majority of the NRA membership, we would be leaps and bounds beyond the deadly political quagmire we have been languishing in as a nation — thanks to the insidious liars and profiteers of the NRA leadership and the cowardly politicians afraid to take them on — for at least a decade in this country.
The NRA’s loudest and most dishonest voice is its executive VP and chief political strategist Wayne LaPierre. He is opposed to any and all legislation that might stand a chance of making Americans safer, claiming a twisted and tortured view of the Bill of Rights’ 2nd Amendment as a prohibition against any and all such legislation.
He, and the NRA leadership, have long opposed common-sense laws designed, for example, to keep those on the so-called “terrorist watch list” from being able to easily purchase combat-style weapons, laws designed to make it harder for people like the mass shooters in Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT from obtaining high-capacity magazines used to kill dozens of people in a matter of seconds, and laws which would require that those buying weaponry from private sellers at gun shows face the same background checks as those who purchase it at licensed gun dealerships.
Those are all laws supported by an overwhelming majority of NRA members and non-NRA gun owners alike.
LaPierre is also an unapologetic liar. Witness his recent blatant lies about a UN international arms trade treaty which, while having absolutely no effect whatsoever on gun laws or the 2nd Amendment in the U.S., was designed to help keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of worldwide terrorists, drug smugglers, pirates and human rights-abusing regimes around the globe.
All the while, while the NRA pretends that it is still operating under its mission from decades ago — to encourage the safe use of weapons by hunters and families in the U.S. — the (not) “non-partisan” non-profit has become little more than a full-blown racket meant to fool its membership into sending them money to further the aims of the U.S. arms industry and intimidate politicians into doing absolutely nothing about it.
So the members, the NRA rank and file, are being conned by leadership, who are pretending to represent them. In the meantime, however, while many of the members may be conned, they ain’t necessarily stupid. Unlike the leadership, the vast majority of NRA members join the rest of us in the reality-based world in favoring many common-sense gun safety regulations.
It’s not even close, by the way. NRA membership supports many of the policies its leadership strictly opposes, by huge margins. Take a look at some of the following numbers from a recent poll of gun owners [PDF] — both NRA members and non-NRA members — as commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and carried out last July by Frank Luntz’s right-wing polling firm (yes, that Frank Luntz of Fox “News”):
• 74 percent of NRA members and 87 percent of non-NRA gun owners support requiring criminal background checks of anyone purchasing a gun.
• 79 percent of NRA members and 80 percent of non-NRA gun owners support requiring gun retailers to perform background checks on all employees — a measure recently endorsed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry.
• 75 percent of NRA members believe concealed-carry permits should only be granted to applicants who have not committed any violent misdemeanors, including assault.
• 74 percent of NRA members believe permits should only be granted to applicants who have completed gun-safety training.
• 68 percent of NRA members believe permits should only be granted to applicants who do not have prior arrests for domestic violence.
• 63 percent of NRA members believe permits should only be granted to applicants 21 years of age or older.
• The NRA rank and file also supports barring people on terror watch lists from buying guns (71 percent) and believe the law should require gun owners to alert police to lost and stolen guns (64 percent). The NRA’s Washington office strongly opposes both measures.
As Maddow said during her breaking coverage last Friday (video below), perhaps we could begin gun legislation by, at the very least, agreeing to items “on the edges” which all Americans, including vast majorities of NRA members, agree with — even if their con-men leadership do not.