Diagnosing the NRA’s Agenda

Deborah San Angelo, Staff Writer

Thrusting through the air at 5000 feet per second, the whoosh can be heard by insects. A projectile with the power to penetrate most metals hurls toward a target. A slight finger movement sends it on its way.

The object is a bullet and the supply is shrinking. Ammunition shelves in gun stores are bare as gun enthusiasts scramble to buy every bullet they can find.

The feeding frenzy began immediately after the Newtown massacre as people feared some guns would be banned. Anxious about Obama’s attempts to control gun ownership, gun enthusiasts are packing the stores, buying up as many firearms and as much ammunition as they possibly can.

The demand for bullets is cleaning out stores nationwide as storeowners scour the internet trying to find any and all bullet calibers for their customers. Wait lists and early morning lines form outside gun stores as people wait for shipments to arrive. By days’ end, the shelves are empty again.

On one side are the gun control advocates who fear an epidemic of uncontrollable violence. On another side are the pro-gunners who fear the government wants to disarm them and take away their second amendment rights. The paranoia on both sides is the result of having too many guns around.

To doctors, gun control is a public health issue, not a political one. Early this month, more than 100 pediatricians swarmed Capital Hill for an uphill fight. They want an assault weapon ban, mandatory background checks and waiting periods.

Since they are the ones who see the many children who are accidentally killed or injured from guns in the home, they are also pushing for federal requirements for safe firearm storage. Their requests sound reasonable enough. Why is it being met with such resistance?

Pro-gun advocates are spreading propaganda of meltdown. They believe the government will administer psychology tests that no one will pass and their weapons will be confiscated. But they needn’t worry. The NRA is there.

Running afoul of the National Rifle Association and pro-gun groups is an invitation for a fight. They are quick to paint anyone who advocates any form of gun control as a political extremist. But that’s only their PR. Their real prowess lies in their ability to get Congress to do their bidding. Congress does more than just drop Obama’s gun control measures. They have specifically cut the funding for firearms’ violence research. They’ve been weakening the laws to make gun dealers have the least bit of responsibility and have made it harder to access data on sales.

The NRA has even sponsored legislation to stop pediatricians from asking parents about guns in the home, which puzzles these doctors who routinely ask about safety issues, such as car seats and bicycle helmets.

With so many weapons falling into the wrong hands, it’s hard to see the logic in scuttling modest efforts to expand background checks. The doctors try to change the tone of the argument by making it about safety, specifically the safety of children. But clearly, the NRA is only concerned about the safety of its agenda.

How odd that an organization which supports the idea of gun ownership as an inalienable right won’t support legislation to insure the owners and their equipment are fit and safe.

The NRA’s original objective was to sharpen an individual’s shooting skills. Today, it’s a formidable political driving force. The center of this force has nothing to do with concern for safety. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act grants the gun industry immunity from lawsuits. Victims are denied the right to introduce evidence of negligence and seek justice. Now the NRA advocates the need to put more guns in the hands of more people to promote safety. I think it’s safe to assume there’s something wrong with this picture.