One of the things I’ve trained myself to do is a weekly check of the NRA-ILA website, because as don Corleone advised his son Michael, you always have to keep your enemies closer than your friends. And while I don’t consider myself and the NRA to be enemies necessarily, I do consider their continued attempts to push a very radical, pro-gun agenda to be shortsighted and ill-advised. When I joined the NRA in 1955, it was an organization devoted to training, gun history and outdoor life. It still devotes time, energy and resources to those activities, but the organization’s major thrust today is to promote the notion of armed citizens which I believe does nothing except increase risk.
The real reason I’m against the NRA’s push for concealed-carry is that, believe it or not, I think CCW laws for the most part actually threaten rather than strengthen the 2nd-Amendment right to own a gun. I say that for the following reasons. First, the 2008 Heller decision specifically and explicitly limited private ownership to guns kept in the home, and I don’t care if all these so-called 2nd Amendment ‘absolutists’ want to yap about their God-given right to walk around with a gun, the law says otherwise, period, end of debate. Second, Heller also vested in government the right to regulate, and there has not been a single challenge to Heller that has denied the public authority from having the last word when it comes to how, why and when people can carry or use guns.
Finally and most important, a majority, in fact a large majority of Americans don’t own guns. That’s not true in Western states like Montana, the Dakotas or Idaho, which together have a total population 4.4 million, which is less than the body count for Brooklyn and Queens. The moment you move into populous states however, particularly on the two coasts where more than 100 million live, per capita gun ownership begins to drop down to one out of four or one out of five. And despite the whining of Mother Loesch about all those millions of Moms who own guns, that’s about as near to reality as how effectively she teaches her kids by keeping them at home.
Most Americans are in favor of gun ownership, as long as guns are kept out of the wrong hands. And the only way that will happen is to let the public authority create and enforce laws that restrict gun ownership to folks who play by the rules; and I’m not talking about the rules that govern everyday conduct, I’m talking about the rules that regulate the ownership of guns. Which is why it’s absurd that the NRA would be campaigning against background checks while, at the same time saying that every law-abiding citizen should own and carry a gun. It’s a contradictory message and, unless you’re a diehard gun owner, it makes no sense.
This is why I found it interesting that the NRA-ILA website carried a story this week criticizing a recent report which once again found that upwards of 40% of all gun transfers occur without a background check – a loophole that has been mentioned by just about everyone who wants to see an end to violence caused by guns. The evidence for this claim is an old survey conducted in 1994 which, according to the NRA, cannot be used to measure “anything about the American people with only 251 respondents in a survey.” This is the same NRA that has been telling us that armed citizens prevent “millions” of crimes from being committed every year. Where does this evidence comes from? Another 1994 survey whose respondents numbered 221!
The NRA will never have a problem convincing gun owners that what it says about guns is sacred and true. But the recent shootings in Virginia and Oregon may have turned the tide and 200 million non-gun owners may be asking themselves what they can do.