A shooter uses his Smith & Wesson handgun at the Los Angele Gun Club. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)
Re "The NRA's hidden power," Opinion, Jan. 3
I commend Jennifer Carlson for her insight on the National Rifle Assn.'s grass-roots power and would add another comment on the philosophical side. This country was founded by individuals who were forced to take care of themselves. This self-reliance underpinned our nation's independence and westward expansion. Today we look to the government to supplement our living and protect us from lawless individuals. Those who choose to carry guns are expressing that historical philosophy of taking care of themselves in areas where the government is unable to fully meet the challenge.
While gun-control advocates frequently make comparisons to other nations, we should not forget that since the Civil War this country has not had foreign troops invade our soil. It is not the guns that protect us; it is the attitude that we are responsible for our personal destinies that has made America strong.
The NRA could not find a more appealing spokeswoman than Carlson. But let's look at a few facts:
The NRA was taken over by the far right in 1977 under the leadership of Harlon Carter, an anti-immigrant fanatic. As a teenager, he was convicted for murder (his conviction was eventually overturned).
The 2nd Amendment was not conceived in an era of 30-round clips. Today, weapons like the AR-15 are sold at gun shows. Why isn't the NRA at the forefront of responsible gun reform?
About 11,000 Americans are killed because of gun violence every year. Britain has fewer than 100 such deaths. The NRA position on addressing this is unacceptable.
Carlson wrote that the NRA's "power lies in its ability to tap into people's real and imagined fears." I respect others' fears. Now respect mine: I'm afraid of the NRA.
Unfortunately, violence is an intrinsic part of the human condition. While guns may propagate this violence, it is counterproductive for gun-control advocates to talk of the NRA as if it relishes the killing of innocents.
The NRA promotes a solution to violence and fear (it's a solution with which I disagree). Even with all the well-intentioned efforts to either increase or reduce gun ownership, there is still a profound sense of mistrust between Americans.
Perhaps with the right tools, we can grow into a trusting, and armed, society. Or perhaps we can grow into a trusting and unarmed society. Only time will tell.
As an American, I support the right of another American to go out and buy a gun and kill me for no reason. If I go to a movie or the mall, I know it's pretty much open season on me. I'm OK with that. Freedom isn't free.