Because the National Rifle Association (NRA) held its 2012 Annual Meetings and Exhibits here in Saint Louis last weekend, the discussion of gun ownership and regulation has been coming up more often. Due to the fact that I’m from Texas, and because of the assumptions people have about Texans and guns, I am more often than not brought into those conversations.
Yes, I am from Texas and support the right to own guns. However, unlike Rick Perry, governor of Texas and one of the speakers this year, I do not support the NRA.
I stand behind the popular phrase “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” The people who use violent crimes to defend their anti-gun stance need to worry less about the weapon used and more about what leads people to crime in the first place. Possible factors are the difficulty of finding a job in a poor economy, lack of necessary social programs and a sub-par education system.
The right to possess firearms is expressly granted to us as U.S. citizens with the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights. I wholly support this right and will defend it as I would defend any right granted to us by the Bill of Rights.
My only caveat is that I will only support the legal possession of firearms. I do not see the regulation of gun ownership as an infringement of this right as the NRA does.
The NRA should support the regulation of gun ownership more than anyone. If there was tighter regulation, including requiring background checks and the registration of all firearms owned, there would be less violent crimes committed with guns. As a result, there would be less opposition to the ownership of guns.
The majority of gun-related crimes, roughly 80 percent according to the U.S. Department of Justice, are committed with guns that are obtained illegally. If every gun were registered, it would make it more difficult for criminals to obtain them illegally.
Legal ownership of firearms does not increase crimes committed with firearms. In fact, Gary Kleck, Ph.D., a Criminologist from Florida State University, estimates nearly 2.5 million crimes are prevented every year by guns. In Switzerland, where every man keeps his government-issued rifle at home, there are only 0.3 firearm related murders per 100,000 inhabitants a year. This pales in comparison to the U.S. average of 4.2 firearm-related murders per 100,000 inhabitants a year.
Although I do not support the NRA as an organization, they do have some valuable and respectable programs. The Eddie Eagle Gun Safe program, established in 1988, has educated more than 21 million elementary-age children about gun safety and what to do if they come in contact with a firearm. The NRA foundation, created in 1990 as a tax-exempt organization, has raised millions of dollars for safety and educational programs for the general public.
Unfortunately the NRA’s primary objective is no longer to protect one’s right to bear arms. The NRA has become a weapon of the extreme right to scare gun owners into voting Republican. The purpose of all the speakers at this year’s Annual Meetings was to push their hypocritical right-wing agenda under the guise of Second Amendment defense.
Each of the high-profile speakers took time to specifically attack President Barack Obama and urged the audience to make sure he loses the upcoming election. Both Gov. Perry and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum claim Obama’s re-election is a threat to Constitutional rights.
I guess they think the president of the United States doesn’t have any other national and international issues on his plate that are more important than taking away their guns.
It seems odd both of them claim to be such avid defenders of the Constitution and smaller government. Each of them used their religion as part of their political foundations regarding abortion, birth control and gay marriage during their campaigns. The Constitution clearly prohibits any law with regards to religion.
The NRA is fully aware the Second Amendment is in no imminent threat of being repealed. The last amendment to be enacted was the 27th in 1992, which prevented laws regarding Congressional pay from taking effect until the next session of Congress, and that was after being proposed in 1789. There are still four pending amendments that were proposed between 1789 and 1924 which have not been able to pass.
So, even if an amendment was proposed to nullify the Second Amendment, it is very unlikely it would be passed anytime in the near future. To the NRA, however, it’s not about guns anymore. It’s about getting Obama out of office.