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The Commons
Photo 1

D. Kendall/Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Dana Loesch, now a face of the NRA, speaks at the Farewell to Arms Free Colorado rally in 2013.

Voices / Viewpoint

Connecting the dots

The NRA is a vigilante group that imposes its fear-based agenda at the expense of public safety

T. Breeze Verdant is an artisan woodworker, creating jewelry, musical instruments, and handmade objects.

Originally published in The Commons issue #449 (Wednesday, March 7, 2018). This story appeared on page E1.


Is our president in the pocket of the National Rifle Association?

It was well noted by observers that President Trump’s response speech to the recent Florida high school shooting, though compassionate in nature, did not mention gun control.

According to Fortune.com, “In the 2016 election, the NRA spent $11,438,118 to support Donald Trump — and another $19,756,346 to oppose Hillary Clinton. That’s over $31 million spent on one presidential race.”

Might this be a factor in his blatant omission?

* * *

On April 7, 2017, the NRA released its “Clenched Fist of Truth” video, clearly revealing the organization’s agenda of violence in this country.

In the video, spokeswoman Dana Loesch urges viewers to “fight this violence of lies” — e.g. “leftist” news reporting — “with the clenched fist of truth.” This ad was aired not long before the Las Vegas massacre.

Earlier this year, after a gun incident in a Louisiana high school that brought in the sheriff’s department, resulting in a search that revealed at least one fake “replica” pistol, a first-term Republican state senator and a pistol-toting NRA member, Dodie Horton, got involved working with the sheriff and concerned parents to create a law making it a criminal offense to carry a fake gun in a public school.

It took the very experienced sheriff three or four minutes to determine that one such replica gun was a fake. Encounters with people brandishing fake guns have led police to shoot and kill at least 86 people in 2015 and 2016, according to a Washington Post database of fatal police shootings nationwide. That number is escalating.

Horton was pretty shocked by the universal response of fellow Republicans, whether they had read the bill or not.

“They just started to attack,” said Horton, who was told that, without the support of the NRA, the legislation would not be going anywhere.

She withdrew the bill.

* * *

I do not feel safe placing an anti-NRA bumper sticker on my car. I’m too afraid that I will return to a smashed, damaged vehicle.

Since I have never seen another anti-NRA bumper sticker on a car and know that there are others who share my views, I’m led to a conclusion that, basically, people in this country are afraid of this group, which appears publicly to espouse violence.

As I write, my roaming mind has a thought: “Thank goodness the NRA is not in charge of our nuclear weapons.

“Oh — wait a minute. They have control over the president. They do!”

Great.

* * *

I used to receive phone calls from the NRA requesting that I take a short survey. I did so to see what they were after. The questions were clearly leading and manipulative, which I expressed to the pollster. The organization’s response was to ask if I’d like to donate.

To connect the dots: There are easily-found statistics in regards to which politicians receive millions of dollars from the NRA in support of their getting elected. An equal number of web sources compare the gun violence in the United States to that in the rest of the world.

The NRA contributed $28,518.07 over Vice President Mike Pence’s career. With dominant legislating bodies in the pocket of a violence-espousing gun group, is it any wonder that little traction is gained in this battle to keep automatic killing machines out of the hands of a 19-year-old whose brain hasn’t even totally formed?

Stepping back to where one can view the forest from the trees, note the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of vigilante: “a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically.”

Looking closely at the NRA, it is, indeed, a compilation of such self-appointed people and one with enough numbers, money, and politicians willing to accept massive donations to enable irresponsible gun policy.

So it is clear that we have a country run to a great extent by a vigilante group that imposes its fear-based agenda at the expense of public safety.

Law enforcement for the NRA appears to be a gun-slinging, money-driven model, one that cares little for innocent victims of senseless violence and everything for profit gained by sales of munitions.

Is it legal? Unfortunately, it is, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling in recent years on campaign contributions.

But it sure looks, sounds, and smells like both bribery on an extraordinary scale and wrongdoing that renders an innocent child afraid to set foot in a public school.

* * *

President Trump would have us look at mental-health issues as the root cause of gun-generated massacres.

Consider this parallel: In a family unit, having a hidden violent agenda that comes forth unbidden from the shadows of a parent’s mind at unpredictable times is a formula for creating insanity in a child.

While an angry dysfunctional family member does damage from the shadows, that damage is made worse when it is enabled by outside players who refuse to name it.

Sound familiar?

I’ve heard the arguments that neither guns nor alcohol nor opiates are the problem; people are the problem.

If that’s so, let’s make heroin available at Walmart and let kids start drinking at an early age. When humans have a track record of causing harm to themselves and others with whatever it is, it’s common sense to keep it out of reach.

* * *

I know that every NRA member is not an advocate for violence. I see a lot of people simply wanting to hold on to what amounts to their perceived sacred values and to their respective families’ traditional rights.

I have no issues with responsible hunters. Nor do I have issues with the right to protect one’s home and loved ones. I also don’t see that creating a war against the NRA solves anything.

If this wrong is going to be righted, I think that the initiative needs to come from the inside of the NRA, to some degree.

I would ask individual NRA members to dig in and think about what really matters. I’m not going to spell out what I think is obvious, leading the conversation.

I simply implore people to genuinely and deeply ask themselves what is right and what is wrong and to act according to what they know in their deepest hearts to be true.

I will say that I think that the NRA needs to hear from its membership in order to find its way to a healthy, compassionate, responsible path.

What do you think? Leave us a comment

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