Another day, another smear campaign against the NRA. The latest attack from the likes of Moms Demand Action’s Shannon Watts, Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and a host of other celebrities, politicians and anti-gun activists have once again declared the NRA to be a basket of deplorables—an organization full of racist, sexist, xenophobic fascists.
Why? Desperation, mostly. Desperate to draw attention away from the violence and acts of oppression being perpetrated and condoned by their ideological allies. Desperate to avoid actually talking about the anti-gun policies they want to put or keep in place—policies that have a disparate impact on the poor and those who live in high-crime, urban areas. Desperate to portray Second Amendment supporters as uncaring monsters who are urging violent attacks on their fellow Americans. They’re desperate because this is the only argument they’ve got.
I, like most NRA members I know, care very much about the lives lost to gang violence, the drug trade and the good people who struggle to raise their kids in bad neighborhoods. But we don’t just feel, we think. We think that another gun control law aimed at the law-abiding gun owners isn’t going to have an impact on the gang violence driving the shootings in our urban areas. Just look at Baltimore. Four years after the state’s sweeping Firearms Safety Act went into effect, Baltimore is on pace for more murders than the city’s ever seen. In fact, it’s odd to see groups like Black Lives Matter and the Bloomberg-backed Moms Demand Action embracing in an ideological snuggle when the two groups are actually at odds with one another. Black Lives Matter believes that the criminal justice system is institutionally racist and disproportionally and adversely affects people of color, particularly black men. If that’s the case, then more gun control laws are also going to have a disparate impact on young, black men. Then there’s Moms Demand Action’s sugar daddy, Michael Bloomberg, who believes that young minority males between the ages of 15 and 25 should be disarmed, and that those same individuals should be “thrown up against the wall and frisked” in the name of reducing crime. Bloomberg didn’t mention anything about probable cause in his comments, which may have been one reason the anti-gun billionaire blocked the release of the video of his Aspen speech. For whatever reason, Black Lives Matter seems untroubled about the fact that the man behind the Moms Demand Action group wants to treat every young black man as a potential criminal.
Most of the NRA members I know also think that making guns taboo, as too many cities have done, only makes them more attractive to the criminal element of society, while inhibiting responsible citizens from exercising their right to keep and bear arms. It’s been almost 10 years since the Heller decision striking down the Washington, D.C., ban on handguns. You still can’t find a gun store in the city, nor a range open to the public. It’s been seven years since Chicago’s handgun ban was brought down by the McDonald decision, and still the city is empty of gun stores and ranges. Guntry clubs are springing up in the suburbs around Chicago, but the city itself continues to do its best to keep responsible gun ownership as difficult as possible. Meanwhile, there are 6-year-olds committing armed robberies. These cities desperately need to develop a legitimate gun culture, but to do that they need to normalize gun ownership for responsible, law-abiding residents. We need ranges, gun stores, instructors, classes and shooting leagues. Instead we get lectures, gun control laws, ignorance and illegal gun ownership—and they refuse to change.
Along those same lines, we think the Second Amendment protects our right to bear arms, not just keep them. When the agency responsible for issuing concealed-carry permits can reject someone for no reason, even if they’ve met all the legal requirements, their right has become a privilege. When cities charge hundreds of dollars in non-refundable fees just to apply, the right has become a privilege. When self-defense isn’t seen as a valid reason to want to carry a firearm, the right has become a privilege.
We think that owning a gun is a choice. If you don’t want to own a gun, that’s your decision. But when you try to stop others from making their own choice, or when you try to shame them for the choice that they’ve made, that’s a problem. Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed legislation this year that would have allowed an individual who takes out an order of protection against someone to legally carry concealed while their license is being processed. McAuliffe said that the bill “perpetuates the dangerous fiction that the victims of domestic violence will be safer by arming themselves. It would inject firearms into a volatile domestic violence situation, making that situation less safe, not more.” In truth, the bill wouldn’t “inject firearms” into anything. It would allow someone who currently owns a gun to legally carry it concealed for a period of weeks (under Virginia law these individuals could openly carry without a permit). That’s it. If McAuliffe really believes that it’s a fiction that victims of domestic violence could be safer by arming themselves, then why didn’t he ever propose a bill in Virginia to disarm victims of domestic violence for their own safety? Clearly, he doesn’t believe in a woman’s right to choose to protect herself with a gun.
The NRA and its members, on the other hand, have fought for all Americans and their right to keep and bear arms. The “most powerful lobbying group in the United States” doesn’t work to pass laws that require people be NRA members to carry, or grant NRA members special carrying privileges. They work for the rights of all. That’s one of the reasons the anti-gun activists try to portray the NRA as a narrow slice of the electorate. It makes their job easier if the NRA is seen by the public as not representative of a broad swath of the voting public.
And yet, according to a recent Pew Research poll, 55 percent of Americans said they thought the NRA had the right amount or not enough clout on Capitol Hill. Despite (and in some cases, because of) the never-ending smear campaign directed against the NRA and featuring a revolving cast of characters, the American public has never bought in to the outright hatred directed against the organization and its members. In fact, millions of Americans identify as NRA members even though they’re not (by the way, if you know someone who fits that bill, now would be a great time for a gentle reminder to renew their membership). The American people know that NRA members will continue to stand and fight—to fight the violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth, and work towards the protection and promotion of the right to keep and bear arms for every law-abiding American.