The NRA: A Champion of Civil Liberties?
by Mark Liberator (e-mail: [May 23rd, 2019]

The National Rifle Association gets propelled into the news for many reasons. It gets attacked for: promoting ‘assault weapons,’ profiteering from murders within urban areas, and placing school children in harm's way. …from those who oppose its efforts, which are mainly democrat-extremists.

As if the NRA did not need more negative press, it recently contended with the resignation of its president, retired United States Marine Corps lieutenant colonel Oliver North. On a related note, Wayne Robert LaPierre, Jr., NRA's Executive Vice President and Chief Executive, is involved with a spending crisis (FOX News). So, the NRA receives friendly fire on this spending crisis and the recent bump stock ban (USA Today) from those who usually support its efforts, which are mainly republicans.

A Lapierre, Cox, and North banners at the 2019 NRA Convention in Indianapolis Indiana Faces of the NRA membership at the 2019 Convention in Indianapolis Indiana Faces of the NRA membership at the 2019 Convention in Indianapolis Indiana Inside the Indiana Convention Center for the 148th annual NRA convention 2019

The departure of NRA President North and the CEO LaPierre spending crisis occurred while the 148th NRA annual meeting in Indianapolis took place. As a life member of the NRA, I felt compelled to attend the meeting. I also feel equally compelled to divulge a vantage point.

The fact of the matter is, there is no organization that is pro-civil rights, like the NRA. The NRA has stood against those who sought to dismantle a citizen's ability to protect family, home, liberty, and property. Sure, some people believe this right is antiquated and antithetical to existence in a modern society. But, they are categorically incorrect. Worse, they spread misinformation to fulfill a means-to-an-end strategy: to systematically dismantle the second amendment and consequently disarm Americans.

Why else would 'assault weapons' be targeted by leftists? The facts tell us that 'assault weapons' (or more honestly described as semi-automatic rifles) are less of a threat than handguns. While 'assault weapons' are on the leftist's proposed chopping block, they only seek a bigger goal, which is to incrementally dissolve citizens of their right to own handguns. To defend this claim, look at these facts:

  • President Trump was considering an executive order to fund a border wall on our porous southern border. In response, prominent democrats, like Speaker Pelosi, reflexively claimed they would retaliate by using an executive order to address "gun violence" [when a democrat president took the office] (Real Clear Politics).
  • Kamila Harris, democrat candidate for president, openly claims she would use executive orders for the purposes of gun control (New York Times).
  • Cory Booker, another democrat candidate for president, repeatedly claims he would use executive orders for gun control (Economist).
  • Democrats continuously impose higher fees, restrictions, and impediments on gun ownership. Where democrats are in control, this is plainly seen. Where I live in Illinois, legislators have proposed a bill to raise the cost of a FOID card (required to own arms and purchase ammunition) to $100, reduce the life of the FOID card to 5 years instead of 10, and make fingerprints necessary (which would be another large cost, Illinois General Assembly, see SB 1966). Illinois is not a statistical outlier.
  • There are politicians and organizations who want to hold gun dealers responsible for the actions of those who use guns in the act of a crime. This would be like holding a car dealer responsible for someone who commits a crime with a car.
  • Leftist activists are pressuring credit agencies to monitor and restrict gun purchases. Do we also place credit restrictions on people who buy excessive amounts of alcohol and want to take a loan on a car?
  • Former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is spent over $50 million against gun rights in the 2014 election. This includes using advertising and lobbying for gun control bills (New York Times).

"Sacrificing freedoms on the altar of a behemoth government is not a solution; it is a long known anathema to independence."

Where leftists have passion, they lack insight.

How will those efforts stop urban gangs from shooting rival gangs over drug turf?
How will it protect students who sit as sitting ducks in gun-free zones?
How will preventing poor, inner city minorities from defending themselves with arms help them while they live in high crime neighborhoods?
How will leftists explain how concealed carry users across our nation are safer than the average citizen?

On the other side of the spectrum, many conservatives are in need of soul searching.

While the NRA spending crisis invites us to peer into the NRA’s ledger, staunch conservatives who are (rightly) tired of the incremental attack on the 2nd amendment are also (wrongly) livid about the bump stock ban. [Bump stocks are devices that effectively convert rifles from semi-automatic to automatic.] Conservatives view the NRA’s abandonment of bump stocks as capitulation to anti-constitutional, leftist ideology.

However, these conservatives cannot both be concerned about NRA spending habits and rolling over on the bump stock ban. Why? Automatic weapons are strictly monitored and regulated and have been since 1934, called the National Firearms Act (ATF). Having unrestricted make-shift automatic weapons (via bump stocks) cannot exist under current law. A battle in the courts would have been extremely costly and it bore absolutely no chance of success. Take the Gun Owners of America’s failed attempt to file an injunction against the bump stock ban (CNBC).

Spending money to make a point but lose is akin to wasteful government spending. Every dollar used to defend freedoms is vital for the current and future of the second amendment and all of its protections against tyranny. Directing efforts elsewhere, through more productive avenues, is a better idea.

While on the topic of automatic weapons, calling a semi-automatic rifle an 'assault weapon' is silly. Why? According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports, the overwhelming majority of gun-related homicides have been perpetrated with handguns. Rifles of any kind accounted for less than 3 percent of gun-related homicides.

Banning ‘assault weapons’ is silly unless the goal is to lump all semi-automatic weapons within the same pool of arms. Is this not the point: to ban all semi-automatic weapons, including handguns? When CNN anchor Jake Taper interviewed Stacey Abrams (failed candidate for Georgia governor), she was working on a bill that would have banned handguns (Washington Examiner).

Dr. John Lott at the 2019 NRA Convention: Gun Control Myths Dr. John Lott at the 2019 NRA Convention: Report on Concealed Handgun Permits Dr. John Lott at the 2019 NRA Convention: How Often do People Carry?
Regarding research related to guns, I had a chance to attend Dr. John Lott’s (economist, president of Crime Prevention Research Center) seminar at the NRA convention and ask him a question. Wanting to pose a question in the most unbiased way possible, I asked him how he thought journalists address gun facts. He retorted, “Is that a joke?” The crowd laughed, nearly in unison. Dr. Lott then launched in to a discussion about the use of language. He explained: while being questioned as a member of a panel, like by a cable news network, he is often labeled as a ‘gun rights’ activist. Those who oppose Dr. Lott are labeled with these qualifiers: ‘public health advocate,’ and ‘gun violence prevention strategist.’

Dr. Lott would rather be designated a ‘crime prevention advocate.’ The language matters because it projects leftists as being caring and conservatives as being materialistic. Yet after revealing several statistics, it is clear Dr. Lott’s position is one of public safety. Take these facts from The Heritage Foundation.

  1. Violent crime is down and has been on the decline for decades.
  2. The principal public safety concerns with respect to guns are suicides and illegally owned handguns, not mass shootings.
  3. A small number of factors significantly increase the likelihood that a person will be a victim of a gun-related homicide.
  4. Gun-related murders are carried out by a predictable pool of people.
  5. Higher rates of gun ownership are not associated with higher rates of violent crime.
  6. There is no clear relationship between strict gun control legislation and homicide or violent crime rates.
  7. Legally owned firearms are used for lawful purposes much more often than they are used to commit crimes or suicide.
  8. Concealed carry permit holders are not the problem, but they may be part of the solution.
Abandoning facts, like those above, makes it difficult to engage in discussion. There is a media campaign by the likes of wealthy Bloomberg activists. There is also bias by journalists, a whopping 96% of which donated to the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016 according to The Center for Public Integrity (Washington Examiner). Abandoning facts lends the way for emotional activism. A 2014 study (reported in Science Daily) tells us leftism is most affected by emotional arguments over factual arguments.

Now, shift to the right end of the political spectrum. Democrat-extremists hate Ted Nugent – rocker, political activist, outdoorsman, and a member of the NRA’s Board of Directors since 1995. They say Nugent is hate-filled and crazy. Driving past the hysterics, we find a better understanding why Nugent has amassed wealth and national prominence.

Nugent surely has a wild side, but he has studied several important issues. He is self-taught and able to launch a high-energy, fact-filled invective against anti-civil rights proponents. He has been interviewed by Piers Morgan (YouTube) and Joe Rogan (YouTube) and has demonstrated several cogent arguments with charismatic zeal. Leftists hate him not because he is hate-filled and crazy, but because he is informed and able to persuade the listener toward conservatism.

Erin Burnett’s (YouTube) interview with the Detroit Rocker was enlightening. Nugent expounded on his acerbic stage language. While Nugent’s choice of words was an issue, using Nugent’s word choices to call him a racist is simply wrong. Nugent has supported John James for U.S. Senate (Voice). That puts an end to the unearned racist claims. Nevertheless, the ending comment by Erin Burnett was notable. She said: “[President Obama] was fairly and democratically elected. He is the president of the United States and like him or not you must respect the office as an American who wants peace and security. That is my personal view whether it is a democrat or republican in office.”

The pendulum has swung to its opposite arc and a republican now holds the highest seat in the free world. It is evident Burnett’s comment should be equally applied today. Few people would doubt the existence of deep political polarization in the U.S., but it is not hopeless so long as we remain open to other perspectives, writes Joseph M. Pierre, M.D. (Psychology Today). This is difficult when the liberal media is driven to derail President Trump, claimed Ted Koppel, former ABC News anchor, host of Frontline for 25 year (Real Clear Politics).

Ted Nugent at the 2019 NRA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana
Back to Uncle Ted, as Nugent is affectionately known. I met him at the convention. He was cordial. He was cool. He was calm. This is what I expected, of course. He was with his people. As he stated within several interviews, he feels calm knowing the gun density is high at NRA conventions. In his mind (and anyone who has spent time around trained, armed citizens), gun-free zones are magnets for destruction. The statistics affirm the opinion, too. Roughly 98% of mass public shooting have occurred in gun-free zones (Crime Prevention Research Center).

Indiana is not known for gun-free zones and outside the convention, men open carrying rifles patrolled the streets. Just outside the Indiana Convention Center, one block North on Capitol Avenue, a man held a sign. It read: “NRA the modern KKK.” I spotted the man as I was dodging raindrops, heading for my car. On the return journey to the convention center, I noticed the protesting man was surrounded by open carriers of semi-automatic rifles. I immediately thought it to be concerning until it was evident what was happening.

The sign-holder was speaking with another man. The conversation... strangely polite. The open carrying men – there were about a half-dozen of them, holding AR-15 style rifles – were literally protecting the protester. It is not a sight I normally see in Illinois. This was Indiana. Indiana’s violent crime rate has been much lower than Illinois’ as far back as the statistics go from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. (Bureau of Justice Statistics: Uniform Crime Statistics) They go back to 1960. In Illinois, politicians detest arms; the state has high crime. In Indiana, many politicians embrace arms; the state has lower crime. It is not a coincidence.

Protestor holding KKK sign at NRA convention 2019 Indianapolis, IndianaProtestor holding KKK sign surrounded by armed open carry AR-15 at NRA convention 2019 Indianapolis, Indiana2019 NRA convention Armed open carry AR-15s Indianapolis, Indiana

The open carrying men surrounded the sign-holding man. Their attention was less on the sign-holder as it was on the entire area. These riflemen were clearly looking to dissuade agitators. This may sound confusing, to see guys holding weapons and not be looking to cause trouble; but, no NRA supporter wants to see a problem. They were ready for a visitor, like Antifa. It is a far-left organization, reported by the BBC, that is well known for its violent behavior. The visit never happened, to my knowledge. No incident occurred. There are entities exterior to the U.S. who have violent intentions. They would like to enter via our southern border, too. I learned this during a seminar at the NRA convention, called Current and Emerging Threats: How it Affects You! Steve Tarani, former CIA protective programs educator with over 25 years of related experience, informed the audience that bad guys can easily cross our porous southern border. Journalist and researcher Briguette Carstensen (JSTOR) affirms it.

You may doubt a terrorist threat on US soil, especially after 9/11. If the thought of terrorist cells coming through our southern border sounds too Tom Clancy for you... If you think Steve Tarani is trying to hawk a book playing on our fears, think again. The US State Department has detailed the issue with our southern border. (Center for Immigration Studies).

The essence of the NRA is that it exists as a line of defense against these threats. It personifies a will of The People emanating from our knowledgeable Founding Fathers. Their concerns were very real in the 18th Century while fighting against King George. The 20th Century was no better, as tyrants like Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot killed hundreds of millions of innocent civilians (Gigagod). The term Democide, the killing of citizens by their government, is an unpleasant yet precise word that describes the evil that has never left humanity.

As if the horrors of the 20th Century never happened, candidates for offices in the US are self-described as socialists. Their campaign promises have demonstrated an eagerness to rob us of civil rights, theft us of our earning potential via high taxes, and increase the role of government in our lives. We have seen the same course of action playout in history, but these candidates for offices are compelled to it, like moths to a flame.

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Benjamin Franklin

I strongly suggest these matters be reflected upon as we go forward. When progressives want to wind back the clock of history and flirt with disaster, we should do more than proceed with caution. The denial of it and refusal to confront it as it gives rise is epically wrong.

A Harvard study (Kates & Mauser, 2007, ‘Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International Evidence,’ available at SSRN, p.10) revealed this:

Our conclusion from the available data is that suicide, murder and violent crime rates are determined by basic social, economic and/or cultural factors with the availability of any particular one of the world’s myriad deadly instrument being irrelevant.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
It was known back in the 1990s how gun control does not equate to lowered crime. Brandon S. Centerwall (epidemiologist and former professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington) came to learn this truth. He reported it in Homicide and the Prevalence of Handguns: Canada and the United States, 1976 to 1980 (American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 134, Issue 11, 1 December 1991, Pages 1245–1260, It is acutely apparent leftists rather cherry-pick their facts to drive their extremist agendas. They would rather the state hold an authoritarian position against its disarmed subjects.

This is why we need an organization like the NRA: to provide a stalwart position on the 2nd amendment. It does not simply defend hunting guns. It remains vigilant to protect our civil rights and ring a bell when statists encroach upon our freedoms. Sacrificing freedoms on the altar of a behemoth government is not a solution; it is a long known anathema to independence.

The alarm has been sounding for quite some time. Libertarians, moderates, and self-defense-wise democrats, are you listening?

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