In what is becoming a kind of trend, Reason and Politics has written an entry in response to today’s tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Josh wrote a piece that I could have written almost verbatim and it would be entirely accurate. Please give it a read.
I grew up around guns, was educated on their destructive power well before being educated about their use, and as a result did not grow up as a “gun nut” or even a “gun romantic”. My father was involved in competitive target shooting with the US Army, and that was the tradition I was handed. We weren’t hunters, plinkers, or military enthusiasts. We were paper-punchers, specifically practicing the discipline of “bullseye” shooting. Around here it is represented in the main by 50-foot indoor gallery competition with .22 caliber pistols. It is the firearms equivalent of the chess club. But even from that small bore tradition, I have had to do a lot of soul searching about my relationship with a sport, a technology, a government, and a group of psychotics called the NRA.
An NRA membership was a requirement for membership in my local range, and I didn’t think much of it 15 years ago. Then I started getting their political mailings, and I honestly looked for anything other than fear mongering in their propaganda. I found nothing of any use. I have engaged some NRA type folks on the topic and it was frighteningly like reading those mailings… a lot of hot air and fear-baiting and basically zero facts. Also, zero tolerance for discussion. A hard line, no debate ideology.
Like almost every other aspect of my life, I believe in voting with my voice, my wallet, my feet, etc… And with the NRA I voted with my wallet when two years ago I made the conscious decision to let my NRA membership lapse, and now my voice. The spectre of an assault weapons ban is, and I don’t think this is breaking news, the prime motivator of many NRA members and the NRA leadership. The main reason, I believe, is because they couldn’t win an honest debate on the issue. Same for magazine capacity limitations and barrel length and automatic fire capability, and so on. What the NRA is saying is that despite being powerful enough to snuff out all attempts at regulating guns in the United States, they fear that once they yield on any point it will cause a domino effect of regulation. Their supposed show of strength is actually a show of weakness.
Each individual needs to make their own path through this tragedy. I make the choice to start walking the walk as well as talking the talk. I hate to say that I am not even sure where to start on engaging a progressive and effective route toward gun control. I know that it doesn’t mean a wholesale firearms ban. I also know that in the US of A we are kinda stupid and everything ends up being some kind of “all or nothing” debate. As long as both sides remain extreme on this issue there will be no effective legislation. Sounds a lot like our fiscal cliff showdown, unfortunately.