The United States of the NRA

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Common Dreams

The United States of the NRA

Photo: Josh Lopez/cc/flickr

Such as do build their faith upon
The holy text of pike and gun.
— Samuel Butler, Hudibras pt. 1

It is time to consider the possibility of disbanding Congress and turning over governance of the country to the National Rifle Association (NRA). At first blush that may strike some as a bad idea since Congress has been elected by the people whereas the NRA is a self-selected small (when compared with the overall population) group. But its membership is growing which indicates that it is a very popular organization and its growth does not occur in a random way. Every time there is an horrific act of violence involving guns, the NRA’s membership increases. Given the amount of violence the country now enjoys, it is safe to say that the NRA’s membership will continue to swell as gun deaths continue unabated.

By the time of the NRA’s annual meeting in May 2013 NRA membership had increased dramatically from the previous annual meeting. When addressing attendees at the 2013 meeting, Wayne LaPierre observed that NRA membership was in excess of 5 million people and its enrollment had increased by 500,00 members following the violent events of the preceding 6 months that included the Newtown School House massacre. As Mr. LaPierre said: “By the time we’re finished, the NRA must and will be 10 million strong.” He did not explain what he meant by “finished” but it’s safe to say the NRA would not, at that point, disband. Since its ranks are growing and people who join do so voluntarily, the idea that the NRA is self-selected rather than elected should not be of any great moment. Furthermore, the NRA is already heavily involved in determining what Congress does and does not do and we should quit pretending otherwise. There is, in fact, nothing Congress does these days that is of any moment since it passes virtually no legislation and confirms few, if any, nominees requiring its approval. The NRA, on the other hand, has repeatedly shown that when something needs to be done by governmental bodies it has the influence to see that it gets done.

When the question of approving a new Surgeon General was being considered by Congress, for example, a selection that one would not believe to be within the area of the NRA’s expertise, it quickly became apparent that those who so thought were wrong. The NRA proved that it had the knowledge and experience to be an important voice in helping members of Congress decide how to view the nomination. In a 2 ½ page letter to the Majority and Minority leaders of the senate, the NRA laid out a number of things the president had overlooked when nominating Vivek Hallegere Murthy to that post. In its letter the NRA examined all the things Doctor Murthy had said about guns during his life. Dr. Murthy had, for example, repeatedly suggested that anyone buying guns and ammunition should be licensed and should be required to undergo firearm safety training and testing, a proposal that the NRA’s letter says would “turn a fundamental, constitutionally protected right into a privilege for the few.” (The NRA was pointing out that learning how to properly use a gun is an unnecessary luxury and something most gun owners cannot afford.) Furthermore, (although this is my idea and not the NRA’s) on an almost daily basis one reads of children as young as two getting their hands on a parent’s gun and killing a sibling. It is perfectly obvious that neither licensing nor training would put an end to those kinds of accidents. The foregoing are not Dr. Murthy’s only transgressions. Dr. Murthy has tweeted that “Guns are a health care issue.” That is palpable nonsense since it is not guns that are health care issues but their effects when not properly used.

Others may say that the NRA lacks experience in foreign affairs, another arena in which Congress was once active. That, too, is nonsense. In September 2013 Secretary of State John Kerry signed the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty authorizing the government to participate in negotiating the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. Well-versed in foreign policy as well as domestic policy, the NRA let it be known that it opposes the treaty “which clearly jeopardizes the right to keep and bear arms protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” Chris W. Cox, the Executive Director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action said the treaty: “threatens individual firearm ownership with an invasive registration scheme. The NRA will continue working with the United States Senate to oppose ratification of the ATT.” In adopting this position on foreign affairs it was joining other countries active in foreign affairs such as Syria, Iran and North Korea, all of whom are concerned with the treaty’s effect on their sovereign rights. The Senate and the House are in complete agreement with the NRA and the leaders of those two bodies have signed bipartisan letters pledging their opposing to ratification of the treaty.

There are a number of other advantages to turning the country over to the NRA not least of which is the elimination of the need to raise hundreds of billions of dollars every two years to determine who will sit in the Congress and do nothing more than draw salaries and quibble. Citizens would simply pay $35 annually for membership in the NRA. No proof of citizenship or other form of ID is needed to join. It’s a great opportunity and we should seize the moment.

Christopher Brauchli

Christopher Brauchli is a columnist and lawyer known nationally for his work. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Colorado School of Law where he served on the Board of Editors of the Rocky Mountain Law Review. He can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu. For political commentary see his web page at http://humanraceandothersports.com

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