Friday, December 21, 2012

An opportunity blown; an icon's luster tarnished

The National Rifle Association, handed a golden opportunity to be a thoughtful participant in a national discussion on responsible gun ownership, instead came out in Friday's "press conference" shouting "SQUIRREL!" and pointed to old violent video games, greedy Hollywood moguls, the mentally "deranged" and, in general, all the evil doers plotting their next massacre on the innocents of America who unfortunately are walking the streets unarmed.
People who criticize semi-automatic weapons can't even get the correct nomenclature down! And the .223 caliber as powerful? Pshaw!
The answer? Protect our schools (yep, all 133,000 of them) immediately with armed volunteers. Don't worry; we'll train them. We have 11,000 trainers standing by. We understand this is controversial but, no, we aren't taking any questions. Stay behind that velvet curtain, please. I said no questions. Bye now. Bye, bye.
What a surprise. What a waste.
I am a gun owner and have been for a number of years. I have been pretty defensive against self-righteous zealots calling for the banning of all guns as the end-all answer to today's violent society. (By the way, the deadliest school disaster was done with a bomb, not a gun.)
I grew up with the NRA representing everything honorable about responsible ownership and usage especially teaching young lads like me how to use firearms safely. I started out as many did with a BB gun, then a .22 caliber rifle and then a shotgun. You were taught patience and respect not only for your weapon but for everyone around you. It was like Boy Scout training - be careful, considerate and trust-worthy. Being a member of the NRA was like being a member of the Youth Conservation Corps, training to be a serious adult, a patriot and defender of the realm.
Somewhere along the way, however, the NRA lost that aura and Friday's "press conference" brought it home.
It was like your drunken uncle showing up soused at your office party picking fights with your co-workers, spilling his drink while ranting about the evils of money-grubbing corporate America especially those whiny spoiled Hollywood types ruining the morals of our youth.
You're embarrassed, apologetic as you try to distance yourself from the remarks but understanding he's part of your family. It's not him, really; it's his behavior.
Well, maybe it really is him. In this case, the "new" NRA.
While in the past, it represented its members who were hunters and sportsmen who used firearms, today they are chiefly spokesmen for the weapon industry. After the Newtown killings, the industry felt it was under assault from all corners and that threatened their livelihood. A major investor of Freedom Group, maker of the Bushmaster rifle used by the Sandy Hook killer, announced it was selling off its stake in the company. Stock prices for all publicly-traded gun makers was headed down and the companies felt under siege.
Rather than talk capitulation, they did their fiduciary responsible thing and deployed their shock troops to divert attention in the most uncompromising and potentially damaging way possible.
Damaging now because past defenders of gun ownership and responsible usage of firearms will be painted with the same broad brush used to paint the NRA. Uncompromising, disrespectful, unapologetic and hardly civil. The antithesis of what the old and respected NRA stood for.

1 comment:

  1. I grew up the same way. I still have the NRA Safe Hunter Badge I earned from taking gun safety——in school!

    It's been a political agitator organization for a long time, selling fear, guns and mythology.