Calling Out the NRA

For decades now, the NRA has held our government hostage. Their trademark has long been an absolute extremism that rejects even the most sensible restrictions on guns. Ban copper jacketed bullets that only exist to penetrate police body armor? No Way! Require traveling arms dealers selling weapons at gun shows to perform background checks? Hell no!

They've been able to get away with this because of two factors:
1) They've spent millions on slick advertising campaigns over the past decades to soften their brand image. Their "I am the NRA" campaign was genius and changed their perception as extremist gun nuts into one of a mainstream organization of sportsmen and women.

2) Meanwhile their political actions have been anything but. The NRA pioneered the zero tolerance policy. Any law that in any way shape or form reduces easy access to weaponry is opposed tooth and nail. Any politician who doesn't vote their way can expect a vicious and well-funded assault during the next election cycle. The NRA is one of the key factors, along with Grover Norquist, in the extinction of the moderate Republican.

The NRA's stranglehold on our government results in the needless killings of 83 people a day. Today's Boston Globe editorial gets right to heart of the problem.

Many people don't realize that fully half the gun sales in this country are in the unlicensed "private" market, purchases made either between individuals or at gun shows and flea markets. Guns of all kinds can be sold without any background checks, to anyone -- people with criminal records, terrorist connections, or mental illness. Why shouldn't everyone be subject to the same safeguards as those in Massachusetts? Why can't Congress close the gun-show loophole? One answer: $8 million in campaign contributions from the NRA since 2000.
The NRA continues to oppose any sensible approach to gun policy in our country. For too long their intimidation tactics have gone unchallenged. It's time to put an end to the NRA's stranglehold on our government and implement common sense national gun policies like closing the gun show loophole that allows violent criminals and terrorists to walk in and buy high-powered weapons without so much as going through a background check.

USA Today can see through the NRA's rhetoric, too. And they note that gun shows still thrive where background checks are required. The only people that stand to lose are criminals and terrorists - people that shouldn't have weapons in the first place.

Several states have closed this loophole by requiring that all sales at gun shows involve background checks. Private sellers have to walk buyers over to a nearby licensed dealer for a background check that usually takes just a few minutes. This isn't excessively onerous, and it hasn't stopped gun shows where it's required. A new study by a doctor who observed 28 gun shows in California and nearby states found shows thriving but noted that many would-be buyers backed away when they realized they'd be subject to a background check.

Closing the gun show loophole wouldn't end illegal sales, but it's a minimally invasive way to stop guns from getting into the hands of people who shouldn't have them. It's not on the congressional agenda now, but it should be. It's more useful than trying to intimidate federal agencies policing gun shows.

Tomorrow a new campaign to call out the NRA will launch, stay tuned.

Tags: NRA (all tags)



Re: Calling Out the NRA

I would like to see gun regulation framed as a personal responsibility issue.

A gun owner is personally responsible for any criminal activity arising out of the use of the gun unless he can demonstrate (a) he legally transferred the gun to a person legally eligible to purchase it or (b) he reported the gun lost or stolen.

You don't want to run a background check?  Fine.  Then you personally vouch for the person who is buying the gun.

by space 2007-07-09 10:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

whether it is guns or not, that is probably unconstitutional.  It just won't do.  Pie in the sky.  Next case.

by jgarcia 2007-07-09 11:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

Care to elaborate on why that would be unconstitutional?  You haven't supplied any support for that assertion.

by rfahey22 2007-07-09 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

Who's starting the campaign?

by spirowasright 2007-07-09 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

You'll see tomorrow. It's an old line 1990's activist group that is redoing their web site or I'd link to them today.

by Texas Nate 2007-07-09 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Sounds like a pro NRA group

Right now the NRA is losing members and influence.  Start a fight with them and they will grow again.  Are we sure this group isn't being funded by the NRA and the Republicans?

I am as anti-gun as one can get and I think this is lousy timing for Democrats and anti-gun folk.

And I am okay with good responsible gun ownership so don't lets go with that point.

by pioneer111 2007-07-09 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Sounds like a pro NRA group
Yes I am sure that is not funded by the Republicans.
Are you sure you're not concern trolling?
Federal background checks for gun sales are not unreasonable nor or are they unpopular.
by Texas Nate 2007-07-10 04:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

I'm not really pro-NRA, as I disagree with them on a number of points, not the least of which is their insisting on only really pushing for Republicans.  Still, I am pro-gun, and most would consider me a radical on the issue.  (I think that people should be able to purchase any small arm, from pistols to hunting rifles to automatic rifles to submachine guns to machine guns.)

Still, it is sensible to perform background checks, and I've never had an issue with the Brady Bill and other background check ideas.

by nanoboy 2007-07-09 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

As we learned with the VA Tech shooting such screenings can be difficult at best. And, I really don't understand the difference and nor has it ever been explained to me- between the right to drive a car or the right to vote or the right to free speech. All other such rights have limitations on them that take into account practical realities. I don't see why this is any different especially since the actual constitutional language is about state militias and not an individual right to bare arms as many people think.

by bruh21 2007-07-09 11:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

>>>is about state militias and not an individual right to bare arms as many people think.

Huh, opinion again.  SCOTUS has never ruled on that.  But the DC circuit just did, and disagreed with you.

Do you have the legal qualifications to argue that point?  Or even just AN argument?

by jgarcia 2007-07-09 11:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

I am trained as lawyer. What about you?

by bruh21 2007-07-09 12:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

good.  so am i.  what would YOU have argued before the DC Ct Appeal?

by jgarcia 2007-07-09 12:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

I wouldn't because I understand how the Courts at the federal levels are stacked. I am not making an argument about the court makeup. I am making one about no right is absolute. They were wrong, if as you say, they didn't make it clear the nature of the the constitutional language doesn't expressly state what many lay people think it says. Is your point that the Courts don't make bad law? I mean the decision overturning part of Brown for example.

by bruh21 2007-07-09 12:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

By the way- none of what you say takes away from my central thesiS: no right is absolute under the Constitution.  This is well understood- hence my citing examples such as freedom of speech ('figting words' are not protected). We often enter these discussions with people citing these principles in absolute terms.

by bruh21 2007-07-09 12:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

Exactly.  The goverment may restrict even so-called "fundamental" rights provided that the restrictions serve a compelling state interest and are narrowly tailored.  To my knowledge, the right to bear arms, whatever that actually embodies, has never even been declared a "fundamental" right.  No right is absolute.

by rfahey22 2007-07-09 12:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

red herring.  unless you have been on Mars, guns are VERY restricted in the US.

by jgarcia 2007-07-09 12:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

I would respond, but your post makes no sense. Therefore, I will have to ask you to explain what you are getting at in another way.

by bruh21 2007-07-09 12:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

by the way- I do believe there is a right to bare arms. My point is that since the language doesn't expressly state that- there is more wiggle room than is the lay understanding to create smart rules to make sure the right is treated with the same level of common sense as other provisions.

by bruh21 2007-07-09 12:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

Just little nitpick - There is no such thing as the "right" to drive a car.

by NicholasWalter 2007-07-09 01:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

true- I was going overbroad in my attempts to make the point that our society encourages balancing. that often the libertarian argument will say i can do what i want as if they don't live in a society of other people. only in nature - as in when you live completely alone- do you not have to live by rules that address balancing of rights and principles

by bruh21 2007-07-09 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

One of the best gun policy ideas I heard from a Constable in Texas a few years ago. He told me he had talked to some state reps about a law requiring gun buyers to demonstrate that they've completed a basic gun safety course conducted by the NRA.

I thought it made a lot of sense. Sadly, it was never even introduced. Why not? The NRA blocked it.

by Seth Oldmixon 2007-07-09 11:18AM | 0 recs
And then we lose rural seats.

"Tomorrow a new campaign to call out the NRA will launch, stay tuned."

Count me out.  I am not prepared to sacrifice the Supreme fucking Court, gay marriage, UHC, and jobs for some fucking gun show laws.  It's stupid and costs us rural seats.

I was liberal in the 90s on ever issue except guns (and there were a lot of us), but I voted GOP because of it.  Yes, I am ashamed of what they've done to the country, but, hey, if I really thought (and some of these otherwise liberal gunowners, many poor, think that) one party was "anti-gun", I might go back to voting that way.

by jgarcia 2007-07-09 11:48AM | 0 recs
Re: And then we lose rural seats.

Being Anti- NRA is not the same as being Anti- Gun.

The NRA, as this post argues quite eloquently, is an extremist organization. I personally have no problem with responsible people owning reasonable guns and ammunition. I do have a problem with the NRA fighting against any attempt to bring common sense into the equation.

You are right, in the short term it could cost us rural seats; however, this is an issue worth fighting on. If we continue to treat the NRA as an invincible threat that is what they will continue to be. If we refuse to be bullied and take the fight to them than we have a shot at having both common sense gun laws and the right to bare arms.

by JDF 2007-07-09 12:04PM | 0 recs
Re: And then we lose rural seats.

having a GUN CONTROL bill passed and signed in SEPTEMBER of a midterm in 1994 was suicide and cost us the House and Senate...bigtime.  Some argue, but Clinton himself said it in his auto and so did Howard Dean.

I agree.  I hate the NRA, but sometimes you just have to deal with things and not try and fight ALL battles at once.  Fuckin A, we are still in Iraq and some of the sillies wanna go after NRA?  It's nuts.

by jgarcia 2007-07-09 12:15PM | 0 recs

This isn't about being anti-gun, this is about exposing a corrupt extremist organization that has twisted our legislative process through money and intimidation to the point that even the most common sense regulation on weaponry is rejected out of hand.

by Texas Nate 2007-07-09 12:17PM | 0 recs

That may be what it's about, but I'm skeptical that it's how it will be perceived.  

by NicholasWalter 2007-07-09 01:05PM | 0 recs
Re: And then we lose rural seats.

There is nothing wrong with an advocacy group starting a campaign to delegitimize the NRA.  That's a completely different issue from whether the Democrats in Congress should start passing anti-gun legislation.

I'm not particularly anti-gun, so I don't really care either way.  But this is simply the way successful movements operate: it's the role of the advocacy groups to build support and move public opinion, so that legislators can take positions that previously would have been toxic.  In the meantime, though, the legislators get to take the mushy middle path while the advocacy groups do their dirty work.

by Steve M 2007-07-09 01:04PM | 0 recs

Voters don't kill our Democracy, single issue interest groups which are actually republican front organizations spending a lot of money do.

by Michael Bersin 2007-07-09 01:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

It is highly unfortunate that public debates about guns and gun violence are nearly exclusively statements of ideology with little reference to empirical evidence supporting any stated position.  The NRA is more responsible than any other organization for this deep politicization of what is a social problem that ought to be investigated carefully and empirically.  This is because they are 99.999% GOP-supporting.  But advocates of gun control have played their part.

In the late 1980s as a member of the Oregon debate team I and my colleagues researched gun control in a way that only specialists might approach.  Prior to my research I was a strong advocate of tight gun control but was much less so after actually engaging the body of published research.

I do not mean to imply the NRA's propaganda is correct or that no instances of stricter controls should be considered.  My point is that the issue is much more complex than often assumed and nuanced analysis is required.  For instance, there is significant evidence that stricter gun control, like drug penalty enhancements, are disproportionately applied against African Americans, particularly progressive or radicalized African Americans. Now, of course, short of a ban, African Americans desiring guns for protection or for other reasons could access them, subject to whatever additional restrictions are imposed.  But as a practical matter, new guns laws tend to be enforced against African Americans and other minority populations while set aside in many cases where perpetrators are white.  So whatever one's intentions in advocating tighter restrictions, please realize that one consequence, given the racist underpinnings of American justice, is that you are effectively sending disproportionately more minorities to prison for the new crimes.

There is also good evidence from studies in the 1970s that the cultural processes that generate and sustain acceptance of gun violence, and acts of guns violence, can be attributed much, much more to the ready availability of handguns rather than long guns; there are different "cultures" at work.  But there are also compelling studies that long guns do not work for some populations and also that tighter hand gun restrictions tend to shift gun preferences toward long guns (i.e. rifles and shotguns) and this may intensify the harm of gun violence (unless one subscribes to the culture argument above).  

My main points:

1) Gun control debates are nearly devoid of any solid empirical assessments.  This produces knee jerk reactions on both sides.  My challenge to advocates of stricter gun control is to produce empirical evidence supporting the particular restrictions you desire. Otherwise you are merely bemoaning gun violence and thrashing about looking for a policy response as catharsis.

2) Having worked in both Congressional and state legislative races in rural Oregon, I can assure you that to make gun control a key feature of the Democratic platform is to ensure total marginalization in rural America.  Not saying that is acceptable or desirable or that this reality is somehow natural rather than the product of sustained organizing by the NRA.  However, we can all wish it was otherwise but it is not.

Progressive advocates of gun control must provide solid empirical evidence justifying greater restrictions AND explain how they will avoid the inevitable political consequence of efforts to expand restrictions.  I don't think they can, and therefore, such efforts will only weaken the party, reduce receptiveness to the progressive message on other issues, and, once those on the other side regain control, whatever restrictions were passed will be rolled back.

Focus on issues that unite progressive sympathies across the urban-rural divide rather than on issues that deepen that divide.

Trond Jacobsen

by Trond Jacobsen 2007-07-09 01:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

Thanks for the very thoughtful response.

This project isn't about calling for Democrats to push an anti-gun agenda. This is about exposing the role of the NRA in pushing a radical agenda that opposes the will of the vast majority of Americans and even a strong majority of gun owners.

by Texas Nate 2007-07-09 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

Re-reading your initial post I better realize your main objective is to encourage people to expose the NRA rather than to call for specific additional restrictions, even though you do applaud a number of specific restrictions without, in my opinion, explaining how or why they will work.

However, I am not sure that in this political environment that is a distinction that makes much of a difference.  Attacking the NRA overtly will likely produce the same consequences as openly advocating additional restrictions.

I am not advocating staying silent on NRA perfidy, but actually taking them on is a lot easier said than done.  Taking them on and failing is worse than choosing other fights.  It's tough.  I agree their influence is pernicious, but really, how so beyond the issue of guns?  I understand they help elect Republicans, but they do seem very narrowly focused on guns and if we do not poke that nest, their GOP mobilization, at minimum, is less effective than when they are attacked or when additional restrictions are contemplated.

Moreover, if the impact of their efforts is that gun restrictions are not passed, then the benefit of your efforts (presumably) would be to pass what you characterize as common sense restrictions.  So then we are in fact at the the questions of restriction effectiveness as well as political fallout.  I'm not sure you slide away from my earlier comments.

Also, posting to blogs like this one is mostly an echo-chamber affair.  How, specifically, are you proposing to knock down the NRA beyond the confines of the liberal blogosphere?  What mechanisms will successfully expose their agenda in a way the brings more people, or more intensity, from the majority of Americans who might otherwise oppose the NRA than the effort will create among the millions of primed supporters just waiting for the NRA call to action?

I share your view that their absolutist stance on cop-killer bullets, etc. is obscene, but so long as we are on the wrong side of the intensity on the issue, it really is not politically astute, in my opinion.  And in many cases not pragmatically effective either.

Maybe you are just saying we should all be much more alarmed about gun violence to change the intensity calculations.  I agree, but prefer education and social policy to gun restrictions as the best approaches.

Trond Jacobsen

by Trond Jacobsen 2007-07-09 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA
Our intention is to put the debate back on the table. Democrats wrote off the gun issues long ago when we were weak at the ballot box. Now we are strong. It is time to be aggressive and attack the arms of the GOP machine that have done the most damage to our people.
This initiative is definitely an echo chamber affair. We are aiming at progressive opinion leaders. Where else would you start?
by Texas Nate 2007-07-09 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

Enjoying the dialogue.

To me you appear to have two objectives.

One is to put the gun "debate back on the table."  By this, I assume you mean initiating an agenda that includes various restrictions removed from the table in years past because we were, as you say, politically weak.  Now that we are strong(er) you want to put them back on the table.  We may disagree about how effective such efforts might be in reducing gun violence, but, broadly speaking, we agree some additional restrictions may have merit.  

Your second objective is to eviscerate the power of the NRA and undermine their ability to provide such strong support for the GOP.  You want to attack the "arms of the GOP machine."  There are few things I more strongly support.

Here's the rub, though: within our echo chamber, these two objectives appear compatible, or maybe even consonant.  But beyond the liberal blogosphere they are, at least as a practical matter, mutually exclusive.  Any effort to put serious gun control on the legislative agenda will NOT weaken the NRA.

We may succeed in implementing restrictions, and you may believe this will reduce gun violence.  But it will do nothing to the fundraising prowess of the NRA, their popular mobilization efforts, or their political influence over the GOP.  If anything, it would greatly strengthen their resolve, enhance mobilization, and boost fundraising.  It would further drive them from the .0001% of Democrats they support (big whoop, I know) and provide a major new lever for GOP efforts to retake Congress.  And by lever I mean, money, rallying cry, focused outrage, the whole bit.  It would stop cold in its tracks the trend towards Dems in the Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions and push rural folks on the left coast further from our reach.  It will harm efforts to reach rural voters and undermine progressive messaging across the urban-rural divide.

To reduce the power of the NRA, you have to attack their 501(c)(3) status (won't work), or limit fund-raising by interest groups for education and mobilization (I do not support that), or find some other way to limit their power.  

Pushing gun control is tactically unsound, in my opinion, particularly now when our strength is not so great as it appears even in the face of a crippled President and divided GOP.  By contrast, though obviously very long term, educating people about gun safety, promoting conflict resolution and mediation in school curricula, and, most importantly, devising new social policies to prevent crime and hopelessness can help reduce the carnage in a way that, if successful, would actually reduce the power of the NRA by changing American values.  More than solving gun violence, it solves violence that causes people to turn to guns.  I am sure you support the types of things I have in mind so I am not accusing you of ignoring other important issues.

Please understand I am not a "oh they will hate us" concern troll.  I want to take the fight to the GOP and push a progressive agenda focused on key achievable objectives that will have the added benefit of increasing support and respect for progressives.  But I do not think major gun control initiatives are the best way to achieve those objectives.   The net result would be to weaken our ability to implement other, and in my view, more important legislation.  I believe the effort would in fact help them and hurt us, setting aside the narrow reservations I harbor regarding the efficacy of restrictions.

Trond Jacobsen

by Trond Jacobsen 2007-07-09 05:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

and most of the specific restrictions are simply sensible things that were the law of the land for years -- like the assault weapons ban -- or things that most Americans assume are already universal law -- like the background check.

by Texas Nate 2007-07-09 04:41PM | 0 recs
Dems & Guns

I have been anti-handguns for most of my life, but lately, my view has shifted somewhat.

When the federal government puts hired Mercenaries on the streets of the USA, (blackwater-Katrina) it becomes clear to me why the founders came up with the 2nd amendment. I can see now why folks feel the need to be armed. In fact, I am going to get myself a pistol, and my best friend (a NRA member) can teach me how to use it saftly and effectively. This is something that we have been arguing about for over a decade now.

Democrats need to be careful when it comes to gun control. Working with the NRA will much more effective than agaist. A moderate, thoughtful policy is in order, and leadership executed with effective communication will be needed. At this time, Democrats are not in a good position to do this. It remains to be seen wheather or not this will change in 2009.

by Bucky 2007-07-09 02:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Dems & Guns

These private contractors like Blackwater running roughshod over people like they do in Iraq (rampant) and in N.O., like you said, scares the fuck out of me.

I am armed.  Some would say, to the teeth.  Mostly because I like to shoot, but also because I am concerned about the rightwing.  

by jgarcia 2007-07-09 02:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

I agree with most of your comments above garcia, and its good to know that I am not alone in dem. circles.

by Bucky 2007-07-09 03:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

I think this is an excellent post, and I agree with many of your points. Most of all, its good to see this topic back on the table.

by alipi 2007-07-09 03:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

Here's the thing. I'm not registered as a Democrat or
Republican, but I am a very reliable vote for the Dems. Outside of corruption or other criminal activity, or the pursuit of an absolutely insane policy or action (like selling the GSP or the NJ Turnpike, are you listening Gov. Corzine?), I would never vote for a Republican.

I am not a member of the NRA and I have never owned a gun. However, in the main, I agree with the NRA re:

Any law that in any way shape or form reduces easy access to weaponry is opposed tooth and nail.

The second amendment of the Constitution is not about hunting or target shooting, it is about killing the government's representatives should they not understand that they work at the behest of the American public. I'm not talking about assasination, I'm talking about resisting tyranny. You might not like to think of that, but considering the current circumstances, you certainly should.

The GOP fell into lockstep with the NRA and has won all of their support. It didn't, and doesn't, have to be that way. In the places where the Democrats have embraced the NRA, they have largely been embraced back. If there were more Democrats who sided with the NRA, the GOP would not be able to call on them in races where the NRA had no beef with the Dem candidate as they now can.

As long as the Dems want to be the anti-NRA party, they will succeed in making the GOP the NRA supported party.

But if you think only gun nuts agree with the NRA, think again. There are plenty of regular people who understand what this is about.

by Ed Sanders 2007-07-09 05:14PM | 0 recs
Copper jacketed bullets aren't armor piercing

Copper jacketed bullets aren't armor piercing, or at least not in any way owing to the copper jacketing.

Copper jacketing in bullets is to help prevent the deformation of the bullet as it passes through the barrel of the gun.  Though the bullets tend to stay together on impact (compared to a plain lead bullet), this does not significantly increase their armor piercing capability.  

by phleabo 2007-07-09 05:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Calling Out the NRA

In 1939 SCOTUS ruled, in US v Miller (307 U.S. 174),that the Second Amendment only confers a collective right of keeping and bearing arms which must bear a "reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia. Taken in conjunction with the Militia Act of 1905, and the establishment of the National Guard in 1915/1916, our modern militia,the Second Amendment does not confer any right for any citizen to own a gun.

The NRA has gotten away with lying through their big fat corporate a-hole for 68 years, because nobody called them on their lying. The NRA has used their membership as human shields, using them to hound their elected officials anytime any attempt is made to apply commonsense laws to gun ownership.

The NRA is all about corporate profits for their real members, the firearms industry world wide. Remember, the NRA is the licensed lobbying agent for the gun industry.

by michett 2007-07-13 05:28PM | 0 recs


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