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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The National Rifle Association wants to give me a “heavy-duty” duffel bag.

It’s a nice one, too — roomy enough for an AR-15 and maybe a half-dozen 30-round clips. Stitched on the side is a bold-looking NRA patch.

The bag is mine if I pay $25 and join up.

Like most gun owners in this country, I’m not an NRA member. It’s possible that Wayne LaPierre got my name off a mailing list from catalogs that sell hunting gear.

LaPierre is the NRA’s perpetually apoplectic “executive vice president.” You see him on TV preaching against gun control, practically levitating with paranoia. He signed the letter that arrived with the nifty duffel bag offer.

One thing about Wayne, he likes to underline. He’s also fond of boldface type, and of capitalizing important words. This rises to a fever pitch when he’s writing about “anti-gun members of Congress”:

And they will not stop until they BAN hundreds of commonly owned firearms, PROHIBIT private transfers of firearms, CLOSE gun shops and shows, and DESTROY your freedom to defend yourself, your home and your loved ones.

Here’s another beauty:

Remember, gun ban politicians and their media allies are on the attack. And the future of your freedom is at stake.

LaPierre might seem like an under-medicated wackjob, but he’s just acting. His job is to frighten people, and to sell more guns.

Major firearms manufacturers such as Smith & Wesson and Beretta have given millions of dollars to the NRA. Sturm, Ruger donated a dollar from every gun sale to the organization from May 2011 to May 2012, raising $1.25 million.

This isn’t mentioned in Wayne’s letter. He calls the NRA a “grassroots membership organization,” when in reality it’s a coldhearted lobby for the gun industry.

And the industry definitely gets its money’s worth. The push in Congress to revive the ban on assault rifles is dead and other modest reforms are in trouble, in spite of the nation’s horror at the massacres in Aurora, CO, and Newtown, CT.

The NRA scares politicians far more than it scares the average citizen. The senators who are now wimping out on broader background checks for gun buyers aren’t afraid for our Second Amendment rights; they’re afraid the NRA will bankroll their opponents in the next election.

Republicans cower most reliably, but spineless Democrats are in no short supply. A push to federally limit the capacity of ammo magazines to a mere 10 bullets is foundering strictly because the NRA opposes it.

Hunters and sport shooters don’t need 30 rounds to hit what they’re aiming at, but mass murderers, gang bangers and cop killers love those big macho clips.